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THE REBUILDING OF 

OLD COMMONV/EALTKS 



WALTER H. PAGE 



Tllll lilHIIBIII Jlliu 

SCHOOL OF EDUCATION 
LIBRARY 



EDUCATION 

BOOK PURCHASE 

FUND 




STANFORD V^p/ UNIVERSITY 
LIBRARIES 



The 
Rebuilding of Old Commonwealths 



THE REBUILDING OF 
OLD COMMONWEALTHS 

BEING ESSAYS TOWARDS THE 
TRAINING OF THE FORGOTTEN 
MAN IN THE SOUTHERN STATES 



BY 

WALTER H. PAGE 




NEW YORK 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 

igoft 



»i 



M.'t^.*.' 



■ .* » . ■ 



Copyright, 190a, hf Walter H. Page 

Copyrij^t, 1903, by Hooghton, Mifflin & Compaoy 

Pabliahed April, 1902 



V Ki «■ k 



t> to V % 

«» to % w 

*» to to w 

to ^ V h 



to ^ 



TO THE 

Ifonoiictti jfftraiotp of jWty ^B.tb€t 

WHOSE WORK WAS WORK THAT 
SUILT UP THS CX>MMONWBALTH 



1\'L'ii'^ 



PREFACE 

Old Jeff. Meddlin lived in a ram- 
shackle house, ploughed a poor farm, 
made a cross-mark for his signature, 
led prayers in the congregation, and 
only twice in his life went out of the 
county where he was bom. He was a 
man with a strong body and with good 
sense ; but his thought travelled in nar- 
row ways, and dyspepsia wore him out 
before he grew old. Young Jeflf. is 
very like his father, with this differ- 
ence, that he indulges in drink instead 
of prayer ; and Jeff. 3d, a lad of good 
parts, has started life on the level 
where old Jeff. died. The family for 
three generations has not got out of its 
shirt-sleeves. 

vii 



viii Preface 

Their neighbour. Colonel Graham, 
says, " Some men will rise and some men 
will not. Nothing can lift up the Med- 
dlins." With this comfortable irrespon- 
sibility, he has never seriously thought 
of their potential value to the State, 
nor (since they have always voted for 
him) as sovereign and possibly danger- 
ous citizens. He sees men ranged in 
clearly defined classes, but he has never 
thought of them as a democracy. Nor 
has he ever included his thriftless black 
neighbour, Sam. Goode, in his thoughts 
of citizenship except at election times, 
when Sam., though dependent on him, 
has always voted against him. 

Now, when I think of the community 
where Colonel Graham lives and of its 
future, I think not only of him but of 
the Meddlins and of the Goodes as well; 
and I have on several occasions, by 
tongue and by pen, tried to convince 



Preface ix 

him that the very virtue of a democracy 
is that by the right training of all its 
children it has the power constantly to 
reinforce itself from the rear. 

What I have written and said to him 
makes up this little book. If I have 
repeated many things many times 
(things, too, that were old before I was 
bom) it is fair to ask the reader to 
remember that Colonel Graham is some- 
what deaf and hard to convince. I will 
thank the reader to remember, too, (as 
an old English writer reminded the 
prince whose patronage he sought), that 
"the Author's worst Publick Crime is 
that he is an 111 Writer.** 

W. H. P. 
May^ 1902^ 



CONTENTS. 



Preface vii 



The Forgotten Man 

An Address delivered in June, 1897, ot the 
State Normal and ludustrial School for 
Women, at Greensboro, North Carolina, 



The School that Built a Town . 49 

An Address delivered in December, iQOi, at 
the State Normal School, at Athens, Georgia, 

The Rebuilding op Old Com- 
WEALTHS 105 

Republished from The Atlantic Monthly, for 
May, 1902, 



The Forgotten Man 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

[An Address delivered at the State Normal and 
Industrial School for Women at Greensboro, 
North Carolina, June, iSgy,^ 

THE cordiality of your greeting 
touches me deeply. I have 
not, as some old-time wander- 
ers are said to have done, carried with 
me wherever I have gone a pot of my 
native earth; but I have carried with 
me always what the pot of earth would 
stand for. Your welcome is the more 
gratifying because you are kind enough 
to link me with the great cause for 
which your institution stands. 

We have often reminded ourselves 
and informed other people that we 

I 



2 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

have incalculable undeveloped resources 
in North Carolina, in our streams, our 
forests, our mines, our quarries, our 
soil — ^that Nature has been most boun- 
tiful; so that our undeveloped re- 
sources invite men under the pleasant- 
est conditions to productive industry. 
And so they do. But there is one 
undeveloped resource more valuable 
than all these, and that is the people 
themselves. It is about the develop- 
ment of men that I shall speak, more 
particularly about the development 
of forgotten and neglected men. 

In making an estimate of a civiliza- 
tion it is the neglected and forgotten 
man more than any other that must be 
taken into account. When you build 
a house, you make the foimdation the 
strongest part of it, and the house, 
however ornate its architecture, can 
be no stronger than the fotmdation. 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 3 

In considering the level of the life of 
any commtmity, you must not give 
undue value to any class of men. A 
community is not rich because it con- 
tains a few rich men, it is not health- 
ful because it contains a few strong 
men, it is not intelligent because it con- 
tains a few men of learning, nor is it 
of good morals because it contains 
good women— if the rest of the popu- 
lation also be not well-to-do, or health- 
ful, or intelligent, or of good morals. 
The common people is the class most 
to be considered in the structure of 
civilization. Moreover, in proportion 
as any community in the organization 
of its society or in the development of 
its institutions lays emphasis on its 
few rich men, or its few ctiltivated men, 
it is likely to forget and to neglect its 
very foundations. It is not these small 
classes that really make the commu- 



4 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

nity what it is, that determine the 
condition of its health, the sotindness 
of its social structure, its economic 
value and its level of life. The security 
and the soundness of the whole body 
are measured at last by the condition 
of its weakest part. 

So much, if you please, to get the 
proper point of view. If you have 
been in the habit in yotir social studies 
of dividing men into classes and of 
considering some more important in 
possibilities to the common weal than 
others, your studies are not in keeping 
with the dominant democracy of our 
country and of our race. In any 
scheme of man-culture one man must 
be regarded of as great importance as 
another. The doctrine of equality of 
opporttmity is at the bottom of social 
progress, for you can never judge a 
man's capacity except as he has op- 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 5 

porttinity to develop it. When we 
make a social study, we must come 
face to face with all the men who 
make up the social body, seeing them 
as they are, and not through the 
medium of our traditions nor by their 
estimates of themselves. 

From this point of view let me make 
a very rapid and general survey of the 
culture of men in North Carolina — 
of the social structure and the social 
forces that have shaped our civiliza- 
tion. 

In the days of our fathers the social 
structure was to a slight extent aristo- 
cratic, but it was much less aristocratic 
than the social structure was, for ex- 
ample, in Virginia or in South Caro- 
lina. The mass of the people were 
common people; they lived directly 
out of the soil and they had the man- 
ners and the virtues and the limitations 



6 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

of a simple agricultural population, 
which was much the same in the early 
part of the century in all countries 
where a liveHhood was easily obtained. 
They were nearly all of EngHsh and 
Scotch, and Scotch-Irish stock. Most 
of them were sprung from peasants 
of sturdy qualities; a very few from 
gentlemen; and some were descended 
from forced and hired immigrants. 
Taken all together they were a com- 
mon people, capable of as sound de- 
velopment as the population of any 
other State. But they were ignorant, 
as the common people in all lands 
were a hundred years ago. 

The dominant idea of education 
was that it was a luxury for the rich, 
or a privilege of the well-bom — if a 
necessity at all, a necessity only for 
the ruling class. This class-feeling in 
education was perceptible even within 



u\ 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 7 

my recollection. When I was a pupil 
at the most famous school for boys in 
the State, a lad whose father had not 
had a military or political career, was 
at a certain disadvantage. I recall a 
scene more ludicrous than any in 
Dickens when a thirteen-year-old com- 
panion of mine came to my room one 
day, shut the door and fell on the bed 
and wept — ^because his father was not 
a Colonel. I tried to comfort him by 
telling him that my father was not a 
Colonel either. So far from consoling 
him this information only gave him the 
less respect for me. I had not seen 
this weeping lad for more than twenty- 
five years, till I recently met him on 
the train. He was telling me of his 
children and I asked if he had ever 
reflected that his own children's father 
was not a Colonel. He recalled the 
incident as clearly as I recalled it. 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

Learning might be acquired but there 
could be no true education in an at- 
mosphere where such an incident could 

happen. 

These things I mention not in blame 
of our ancestors. It is out of just such 
stock that the men came who to-day- 
rule the world. But I mention these 
things because we ourselves have writ- 
ten and spoken much nonsense about 
ourselves and about our ancestors and 
have made ourselves believe that we 
were in some way different from other 
stiudy folk and that we were in some 
way better than other common people. 
Thus we have come to put a false value on 
our social structure, and we have never 
looked ourselves in the face and seen 
ourselves as others see us. This false 
view has done incalculable hurt. All 
social progress must begin with a clear 
understanding of men as they are. 



1 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 9 

We are all common folk, then, who 
were once dominated by a little aris- 
tocracy, which, in its social and eco- 
nomic character, made a failure and 
left a stubborn crop of wrong social 
notions behind it — especially about edu- 
cation. 

There lingers one very striking reUc 
of the aristocratic structure of opinion 
in North Carolina — a certain timidity 
on the part of our leaders in dealing 
with the pubUc, a timidity on the part 
of the leaders, which we have falsely 
called conservatism on the part of the 
people, a hesitation to trust the people's 
judgment. It cropped out humor- 
ously on this platform yesterday. Mr. 
Scarborough declared that our people 
were conservative — very conservative! 
You must consider what they are 
ready for and what they are not ready 
for, for they are very conservative. 



lo THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

A half hour later, while narrating the 
career of Dorothea Dix, Mr. Carr 
showed how one woman of enthusiasm 
came here from Massachusetts and 
induced the State to spend for a single 
institution at one time (and that an 
asylum for the insane) a larger sum 
than the whole annual resources of the 
State government; and no man has 
from that day to this made objection 
to the expenditure. Our whole history 
is full of such incidents. Almost every 
noteworthy thing that we have done 
has been done in obedience to an im- 
pulse. Conservative ? We are the most 
impulsive peopl^ in\aginable. But if 
" conservatism '* so overcome any 
one who hears me in the very con- 
servative things that I have to say, 
it must be tmderstood that I speak 
only for myself. I speak out of my 
own ignorance only, and I speak, I 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN ii 

regret to say, only as a spectator of 
your noble work. 



In the old days when education was 
dominated by the aristocratic idea, 
the chief influences that shaped opinion 
were the stump and pulpit. From 
the stump two cardinal articles of faith 
were proclaimed. One was that a man 
must have liberty. Much was made 
of what was called personal liberty, 
and I think rightly. If any man sought 
an tmfair advantage of another, the 
injured man was quick to assert his 
rights before the law, if, indeed, he 
did not assert it with^his fists. This 
sturdy notion of liberty has been a 
great quality from the time of the 
Mecklenburg Declaration till to-day. 
If our fathers emphasized it too much 
let us forgive them, for we shall see 
presently that we also have need of 



12 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

some fighting qualities. Another ar- 
ticle of faith proclaimed from the 
stump was that taxes were too high. 
From the days of King George to this 
day, the politicians of North Carolina 
have declaimed against taxes, thus 
laying the foundation of our poverty. 
It was a misfortune for us that the 
quarrel with the King George hap- 
pened to turn on a question of taxation 
— so great was the dread of taxation 
that was instilled into us. 

The other great educational force 
was the pulpit. Parts of the people 
were strongly inclined to an emotional 
kind of religion, and our historians tell us 
of great camp meetings and "revivals" 
that swept over whole counties, con- 
tinued for weeks, and threw many 
persons into trances. More men lost 
their reason from religious troubles 
than from any other cause, except the 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 13 

lonely overwork of women. The latest 
book written and published in the State 
that I have happened to see is the 
autobiography of a notable religious 
maniac whom I knew in my boyhood. 
The more primitive and violent forms 
of religion took a deep hold on the peo- 
ple and (as is usually the case) without 
affecting their conduct at all. 

Not only was the preacher a mighty 
man in our life, but there was in the 
old days a type of preacher who was 
an heroic man, a man who had all 
the qualities of the pioneer. He was 
ready any day to face the hardships 
of the wilderness or to stand in the 
presence of the Almighty. I doubt if 
we have ever produced other men as 
great as our pioneer preachers. They 
were cast in so large a mould, they 
dealt so directly with the ftmdamental 
emotions of men and with some of the 



^^^_ cei 



14 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

great facts of the spiritual life, that 
they almost ranged themselves with 
the giants. I had rather have known 
one of these men than all the political 
and military heroes that we have since 
bred. The politician has been the 
greater popular hero, but the preacher 
has had much the greater influence. 
For a century he was by far our greatest 
man — the man of the largest original 
power and of the strongest character. 
He inherited the heroic qualities of the 
pioneers, and he led a life at once 
serene and active. He was a primitive 
sort of character, genuine and fearless. 
If our traditions overrate the political 
leaders that we have produced, they as 
greatly underrate the early preachers. 

Now let us see what these two powers 
that ruled our fathers did for the edu- 
cation of the masses. The first con- 
ception of education was the aristo- 



1 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 15 

cratic conception, and the first system 
of teaching was controlled by those 
who held political power; it was the 
old system of class education. It did 
not touch the masses. They had no 
part in it. They grew up with the 
idea that education was a special 
privilege: they did not aspire to it, did 
not believe that it was attainable, and 
at last they came to believe that it was 
not desirable, certainly that it was not 
necessary. They remained illiterate, 
neglected, forgotten. There was no 
substantial progress in broadening edu- 
cational opporttmities in North Caro- 
lina from the time of the colony till 
the beginning of the civil war, except 
the noteworthy and noble work that 
was done just before the war to develop 
a public school system. This notable 
and noteworthy effort gives us good 
reason to hold those who made it, 



I 



FORGOTTEN MAN 

chief among whom was Calvin H. 
Wiley, in grateful remembrance. 

I commend to you most earnestly 
as of the first importance a thorough 
study of our social beginnings and 
development — not always as it has 
been described by our historians, but 
from original sources. You will clear 
your minds of the hazy exaggerations 
that we get from tradition. Many 
traditional heroes will disappear, and 
many whose names have been forgotten 
or are seldom heard will re-appear 
as real heroes. Among these will be 
the group of men who strove forty 
years ago or more to establish a public 
school system. But their scheme, Uke 
Jefferson's own great scheme, was 
doomed to await a later time for its 
development. 

Later than the aristocratic system 
of education and overlapping it, came 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 17 

the ecclesiastical system. In establishing 
and developing this, the preachers did 
valiant service. They were colporteurs 
and they carried religious books to the 
people. The churches established, be- 
sides preparatory schools for boys and 
girls, three schools for men which grew 
into colleges. At first they were es- 
tablished for the education of preachers, 
but they broadened their field of labour 
and became schools of general culture, 
and most admirable service they have 
done. The denominational educational 
movement was broader in its benefits 
than the old aristocratic educational 
movement had been, for these colleges 
were open to the common people and 
they proclaimed the desirability of 
general education. Still they were class 
institutions ; each was a school of a sect. 
Universal education, imiversal free edu- 
cation, was not on their programme. 



nor of Massachusetts. Nor have they 
trained even a select body of scholars 
that have been or are in any way 
famous. Make another test: there are 
no great libraries in the State, nor do I 
the people yet read, nor have the I 
publishing houses yet reckoned them ' 
as their patrons, except the publishers 
of school books. By any test that may ' 
be made, both these systems of educa- 
tion failed even with the classes that I 
they appealed to. One such test is 
the test of emigration from the State. 
In 1890 there were living in other States 
293.000 persons who were bom in 1 
North Carolina. One in eight of every I 
native of the State then living had 
gone away. When we remember that 
almost every one of those emigrants 
went to States where taxes are higher 
and schools are more numerous and 
better and where competition is more 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 21 

fierce, and when we remember that 
they went away from a State that is 
yet sparsely settled and richer in 
natural opporttmities than most of the 
States to which they went, the failure 
of these systems becomes painfully 
obvious. 

If a slave brought $1,000 in old times, 
it ought to be safe to asstune that every 
emigrant from the State has an eco- 
nomic value of $1,000. This emigra- 
tion therefore had up to 1890 cost us 
$293,000,000 — a fact that goes far to 
explain why we are poor. To take the 
places of these 293,000 emigrants, after 
twenty years of organized effort to 
induce immigration 52,000 immigrants 
bom in other States had come here, a 
large proportion of whom had come 
for their health. But cotmting the 
sick and the dying at $1,000 each, we 
had still lost $241,000,000 by the 



22 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

transaction. This calculation gives a 
slight hint of the cost of ignorance and 
of the extravagance of keeping taxes 
too low. 

Next, what did these systems of edu- 
cation do for the masses? In 1890, 
twenty-six per cent, of the white 
persons of the State were imable even 
to read and write. One in every four 
was wholly forgotten. But illiteracy 
was not the worst of it ; the worst of it 
was that the stationary social condi- 
tion indicated by generations of illiter- 
acy had long been the general condi- 
tion. The forgotten man was content 
to be forgotten. He became not only 
a dead weight, but a definite opponent 
of social progress. He faithfully heard 
the politicians on the stump praise him 
for virtues that he did not have. The 
politician told him that he lived in 
the best State in the Union, told him 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 23 

that the other politician had some 
hare-brained plan to increase his taxes, 
told him as a consolation for his ignor- 
ance how many of his kinsmen had 
been killed in the war, told him to dis- 
trust anybody who wished to change 
anything. What was good enough for 
his fathers was good enough for him. 
Thus the forgotten man became a dupe, 
became thankful for being neglected. 
And the preacher told him that the ills 
and misforttmes of this life were bless- 
ings in disguise, that God meant his 
poverty as a means of grace, and that 
if he accepted the right creed all would 
be well with him. These influences 
encouraged inertia. There could not 
have been a better means to prevent 
the development of the people. 

I have thus far spoken only of the 
forgotten man. I have done so to 
show the social and educational struc- 



r 



24 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

ture in proper perspective. But what I 
have come to speak about is the for- 
gotten woman. Both the aristocratic 
and the ecclesiastical systems made pro- 
vision for the women of special classes — 
the fortimately bom and the religious 
well-to-do. But all the other women 
were forgotten. Let any man whose 
mind is not hardened by some worn-out 
theory of politics or of ecclesiasticism 
go to the country in almost any part 
of the State and make a study of hfe 
there, especially of the life of the 
women. He will see them thin and 
wrinkled in youth from ill prepared 
food, clad without warmth or grace, 
living in untidy houses, working from 
daylight till bed-time at the dull round 
of weary duties, the slaves of men of 
equal slovenliness, the mothers of joy- 
less children-^all uneducated if not 
illiterate. Yet even their condition 



1 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 25 

were endurable if there were any hope, 
but this type of woman is encrusted 
in a shell of dull content with her lot ; 
she knows no better and can never learn 
better, nor point her children to a 
higher life. If she be intensely re- 
ligious, her religion is only an additional 
misfortune, for it teaches her, as she 
tinderstands it, to be content with her 
lot and all its burdens, since they 
prepare her for the life to come. Some 
men who are bom imder these condi- 
tions escape from them ; a man may go 
away, go where life offers opportimi- 
ties, but the women are forever help- 
less. 

And this sight every one of you has 
seen, not in the countries whither we 
send missionaries, but in the borders 
of the State of North Carolina, in this 
year of grace. Nor is it an infrequent 
sight. There are thousands and thou- 



26 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

sands of such women in our popula- 
tion. 

Now one of the two things is true — 
either these forgotten men and women 
are incapable of development, and belong 
to a lower order of intelligence than 
any other people of Anglo-Saxon stock ; 
or our civilization, so far as they are 
concerned, has been a failure. Of 
course there is no doubt which of these 
suppositions is true; for these people 
are capable of development, capable 
of unlimited growth and elevation. 
But, if they be capable of development, 
then both the aristocratic and the 
ecclesiastical systems of society have 
failed to develop them. 

Since both the poUtician and the 
preacher have failed to lift this life after 
a century of unobstructed opporttmities, 
it is time for a wiser statesmanship 
and a more certain means of grace. 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 27 

And siirely of all people the preacher 
and the politician ought, in common 
modesty, to be the last to oppose a new 
system of education for the develop- 
ment of the tmdeveloped masses. 

But now the story brightens. These 
old educational systems having failed 
here, as they have failed in other 
States, the public -spirited, far-sighted 
and energetic young men, chief among 
them your own President and the 
President of the University, who came 
into activity ten years or more ago, 
began seriously to develop a public 
school system, first of course in the 
towns. They developed by their own 
earnestness the work that had been in 
part planned by men like Major Finger. 
One town followed another, levying a 
local tax to supplement the State tax. 
I doubt if such an educational revival 
was ever known in any other State, 



k 



38 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

certainly nothing like it was ever 
known before in North Carolina. I am 
sure that you who have lived here con- 
tinuously for the last ten years do not 
know how great the quickening of 
civiKzation has been. The level of 
life has been moved further upward in 
these ten years than it was moved in 
any preceding fifty years. I never 
come here but I am astonished at the 
changes I hear of. The civilization that 
you have to-day is different from the 
civilization of my own boyhood by a 
greater remove than that civilization 
was different from the civilization of 
fifty years before. 

In my judgment there has been no 
other event in North Carolina since the 
formation of the American Union 
that is comparable in importance to 
this new educational progress. The 
movement now has such momentum 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 29 

that nothing can hinder the complete 
development of the public school sys- 
tem till every child is reached. When 
every inhabited township votes a local 
tax to supplement the State tax, the 
taxes you now levy will seem small 
and will be increased. According to 
the last published reports of the Com- 
missioner of Education, the total sum 
spent per year per pupil in the public 
schools was still lower in North Caro- 
lina than in any State except South 
Carolina. It was only $3.40. In 
Georgia it was nearly $6.50, in Virginia 
it was nearly $9, in Indiana it was $20, 
in Michigan nearly $20, in Wisconsin 
$21, in Minnesota nearly $30, in the 
new State of North Dakota it was 
nearly $33.50 — ^nearly ten times the 
expenditure per pupil that was made 
in North Carolina. None of these 
States is richer than your own in 



30 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

possibilities. The ability to maintain 
schools is in proportion rather to the 
appreciation of education than to the 
amount of wealth. We pay for schools 
not so much out of our purses as out of 
our state of mind. For example, there 
is a man in Moore County who had two 
children at school at the expense of 
somebody else. Although he did not 
pay their bills, he took them from 
school the other day because, he said, 
the chaise for tuition was too high. 
He is the frankest and most faithful 
believer of our old-time economic creed 
that I have ever known. 

As the movement to establish public 
schools everywhere gathers force, men 
of wealth will find that they can do 
no public service with their money so 
sure to bring lasting results as to build 
schooUiouses. The history of philan- 
thropy shows that no public bene- 



1 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 31 

faction brings the same sure and per- 
manent results as provision for the free 
education of the masses. The battle 
will be practically won when the whole 
State shall stand on this platform: 

A public school system generously 
supported by public sentiment^ and gen- 
erously maintained by both State and 
local taxation, is the only effective means 
to develop the forgotten man, and even 
more surely the only means to develop the 
forgotten woman. 

Even ten years ago, many men in 
North Carolina did not stand on this 
platform. Now I hear that few oppose 
such a programme, and those few you 
will soon educate for sheer pity. 

Standing in this institution to-day, 
it seems incredible that I myself can 
recall the opposition both of political 
leaders and of ecclesiastical leaders 
to free public schools. Nothing else 



33 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

ever made me so nearly hopeless. 
Thank Heaven, that opposition is 
passed. Or, if it be not wholly passed, 
and if any dupe of an old political fallacy 
say that we are too poor to increase 
our taxes for education, remember 
that the average amount paid now by 
every taxpayer is only $2.13; the 
average amount paid by each tax- 
payer in the poor State of Maine is 
$9.23; in Virginia $4.72, in Florida 
$5.93; in Iowa it is $15. Too poor to 
maintain schools ? The man who says 
it is the perpetuator of poverty. It 
is the doctrine that has kept us poor. 
It smells of the alms-house and the hovel. 
It has driven more men and more wealth 
from the State and kept more away 
than any other political doctrine ever 
cost us — more even than the doctrine 
of Secession. Such a man is the victim 
of an ancient and harmful falsehood. 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 33 

If any beggar for a church schcx)l 
oppose a local tax for schools or a 
higher school tax, take him to the 
huts of the forgotten women and 
children, and in their hopeless presence 
remind him that the church system 
of education has not touched tens of 
thousands of these lives, and ask him 
whether he think it wrong that the 
Commonwealth should educate them. 
If he think it wrong, ask him and ask 
the people plainly, whether he be a 
worthy preacher of the gospel that 
declares one man equal to another in 
the sight of God? Is not one man 
equal to another also in the sight of 
the Commonwealth? In all reason- 
ableness, it is impossible to under- 
stand how any man can regard it as a 
Christian act to stand in the way of 
the State's elevating the neglected 
masses. Can any church afford to 



34 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

put itself in such a position ? or, if it do, 
has it any right to complain if good 
men declare it an unchristian attitude? 
Even if you could respect the religion 
of the man who objects to the elevation 
of the forgotten masses by public 
education, it is hard to respect his 
common sense ; for does his church not 
profit by the greater enlightenment 
and prosperity that every educated 
community enjoys ? This doctrine 
smells of poverty — poverty in Uving, 
poverty in thinking, poverty in the 
spiritiml life. 

The most sacred thing in the Com- 
monwealth and to the Commonwealth 
is the child, whether it be your child 
or the child of the dull-faced mother 
of the hovel. The child of the dull- 
faced mother may, for all you know, 
be the most capable child in the State. 
At its worst, it is capable of good 




THE FORGOTTEN MAN 35 

citizenship and a useful life, if its in- 
telligence be quickened and trained. 
Several of the strongest personalities 
that were ever bom in North Carolina 
were men whose very fathers were un- 
known. We have all known two such, 
who held high places in church and 
state. President Eliot said a little 
while ago that the ablest man that 
he had known in his many years' 
connection with Harvard University 
was the son of a brick mason. The 
child, whether it have poor parents 
or rich parents, is the most valuable 
undeveloped resource of the State. 

But the day is past when worn-out 
theories hold us in captivity, and we 
owe its passing chiefly to the idea that 
this institution stands for. Our whole 
life will soon be delivered from the 
bondage of ignorance by our hitherto 
forgotten women. I am reminded of the 




36 



story of the saving of a captured city by 
its gentlewomen. In an old translation 
of Montaigne it nms thus : 

"The Emperor, Conradus, third of that 
name, having besieged Guelphe, Duke of 
Bavaria, what vile or base satisfaction so- 
ever was offered him, would yield to no 
other milder onditions, but only to suffer 
such gentle women as were with the Duke 
in the city (their honours safe) to issue out 
the town afoote, with such things as they 
could carry about them. They, with un- 
relenting courage, advised and resolved 
themselves (neglecting all their riches or 
jewels to carry their husbands, their chil- 
dren and the Duke himselfe, on their 
backs. The Emperor, perceiving the 
quaintnesse of their device, tooke so great 
pleasure in it that he wept for joy, and 
forthwith converted the former inex- 
orable rage and mortall hatred he bare the 
Duke into so milde a relenting and gentle 
kindnesse, that thence he entreated both 
him and his, with all favour and courtesy." 

You that know me will bear witness 
that I have not spoken of our fathers, 
nor of our political leaders, least of all 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 37 

of our religious leaders, in a spirit of 
ungrateful criticism. I have meant 
with all proper respect for them and 
for their good qualities and good works 
only to show that their systems have 
proved failures for our needs. Doubt- 
less tmder the conditions of thier lives 
they did the best they could do. But 
the conditions of our lives are different ; 
and our duty is to accept our own 
conditions without illusions, to face 
our own problems like men, and when 
necessary with all respect for the past 
to lift dead men's hands from our 
life. 

May I go forward a step further in 
the development of public education 
that must in due time follow this 
delivery from the bondage of the old 
systems? The extension of free pre- 
paratory schools in every part of the 
State is leading to the establishment 



38 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

of free high schools, such as ah-eady 
exist in some towns, as in Greensboro 
and in Dtirham, and in other larger 
towns. These will draw to themselves 
the intellectual interests of the whole 
community and make the public school 
system the pride of our people. I 
know towns where every enlightening 
interest centres in the high school. 
Lectures are given there on literature 
and on music and on practical subjects 
as well, by the most learned men and 
women. Parents pursue courses of 
study with their children. The whole 
life of such towns is lifted to a high in- 
tellectual level. In some such towns 
private schools exist only to train 
those boys and girls who are too dull 
or backward to keep pace with the 
rest — a sort of asylums for the stupid. 
My own sons are to-day preparing to 
enter Harvard University at the Cam- 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 39 

bridge Latin school, where the sons 
and daughters of the professors at 
Harvard are in the same classes, or 
may be, with the sons and daughters 
of draymen and hack-drivers. All have 
the same privileges and the same op- 
portunities ; and no pupil can buy even 
a book or a pencil; the city supplies 
them all. Every man pays for it in 
his taxes; and every man profits by it 
in the increased value of his property, 
in the higher wages he receives, as a 
higher and higher degree of skill in all 
work is developed, and a higher and 
higher level of trained life is reached. 
On their way home from school these 
pupils may stop at a magnificent public 
library and take from it any book they 
please free of charge, or spend the 
day in the large reading rooms, in- 
vestigating any subject they may be 
interested in. So may any man or 



40 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

woman or child in the whole city, free 
of charge. The library btiilding was 
the gift of a wealthy citizen. The 
books are paid for by my taxes and 
the taxes of other men there. Every 
town in Massachusetts, but about a 
dozen small and remote towns, has 
such a free library — ^the direct growth 
of a public school system. The States 
of New York and Michigan send travel- 
ling libraries of new books — collections 
of good literature — to any town that 
asks for them and has a pubKc library 
of its own. After these hundred or 
two volumes have remained in one 
town the allotted time, they are sent 
on to another, and so on indefinitely — 
all at the State's expense. 

When I have seen these things and 
profited by them, and when I know 
that men are every day going away 
from this old land that they love to 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 41 

get such advantages for themselves 
and for their children, can I listen to 
the mendicant whine of any ignorant 
political or ecclesiastical leader who says 
that my children had better not be 
educated at all if they cannot be bred 
with his narrow outlook on life ? 

Now look a little further yet along 
the line of development of the public 
school system. Following the high 
school may come (and I think ought 
to come), a still higher extension of 
State education — the wholly free Uni- 
versity and Industrial Schools. When 
your University was established, the 
old political idea of education prevailed, 
and a restricted number of boys from 
each cotmty was admitted free — and 
these only. This system discriminates 
in favour of a restricted number of 
youths and against all the rest. It is 
still only a partially free system. There 



42 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 

is always a danger that the boys who 
pay, if it be known who they are, will 
regard those who do not pay as charity 
students. If all alike were free — ^as all 
in my judgment ought to be — ^no such 
danger could arise. 

The old aristocratic system had a 
leaning towards charity as the ecclesi- 
astical system has; and the view of 
education as a charity has always been 
one of the greatest weaknesses of both 
systems. Education pays the State. 
The more persons educated the better 
education pays the State. But to dole 
it out to a restricted ntimber is to 
regard it as charity and to turn the State 
into an alms-giver. Most of the East- 
em States, where the aristocratic idea 
was strongest, have stopped short of 
free universities; but many of the 
Western States have been wiser. 

In the State of Michigan, for instance, 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 43 

a child of either sex may begin its edu- 
cation at a public school and pursue it 
through the State University without 
charge; and this University has be- 
come one of the strongholds of learning 
in the Union and one of our great 
schools. A similar system has been 
adopted in Kansas, in Texas, and in 
other States. Any child in any one of 
those great Commonwealths may have 
free training from infancy to maturity — 
free training in one of the most efficient 
systems of education ever devised by 
man. And this system has been con- 
structed and developed almost within 
the lifetime of the yotmgest of us. 

The opporttmity exists in North 
Carolina to establish a similar system 
by a single effort and without any con- 
siderable increase of expenditure. We 
have our State University, most useful 
and vigorous tmder its recent President, 




and its present one, and we have our 
three larger and older denominational 
colleges — Davidson College with its 
solidity and old-time dignity, Wake 
Forest College, a striking demonstration 
of what people of moderate means 
may at any time do when they work 
with united purpose, and Trinity Col- 
lege with its new life made possible by 
its generous benefactors. We have all 
these and the other State schools and 
denominational schools for boys and 
for girls. IE they could all be united 
into one great school, it would at once 
become by far the most efficient and 
noteworthy institution in the South. 
And there is no reason why it should 
not become one of the great seats of 
learning in the Union. If the doors of 
such an institution were thrown open 
free to every boy and girl in the State, 
and there were free schools to train 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 45 

them for it, we should no longer talk 
of forgotten men and women; and 
people from other States would seek 
homes here. These counties would be 
peopled at last by as useful and as 
cultivated a population as any in the 
United States. 

Nor need the religious influence of 
any of the denominational colleges 
suffer by such a move when the time 
for it comes. Every one might have 
its own dormitory and religious super- 
vision over pupils of its own sect. A 
definite movement of this sort has 
already been made where the denomi- 
national schools have shown a wish to 
become a part of the system of public 
education. 

But I have wandered too far from 
the problems of the immediate present. 
Such things as I have spoken of, we 
may look for in the future. What may 



46 THE FORGOTTEN MAN 



we not look for in the future? What- 
ever I might say in prophecy would 
be as inadequate as all that I might 
say in congratulation. Great changes 
come as silently as the seasons. I am 
no more sure of this spring time than I 
am of the rejuvenation of our society 
and the lifting up of our life. A revo- 
lution is in progress, and this institu- 
tion is one of the first and best fruits 
of it. I declare in truth and soberness, 
that this is the most inspiring sight 
that I have ever seen in North Carolina, 
for before the moral earnestness of 
well-trained women social illusions van- 
ish and worn-out traditions fall away. 

O earnest young Womanhood of the 
Commonwealth, we that had forgotten 
you now thankfully do you honour. 
Many a man with the patriotic spirit 
that is our inheritance has striven to 
lift dead men's hands from our stagnant 



I 



THE FORGOTTEN MAN 47 

life and has been baffled by a centtiry's 
inertia. I speak the gladdest speech of 
my life when I say that you have lifted 
them. This institution and your pres- 
ence is proof that the State has re- 
membered the forgotten woman. You 
in turn will remember the forgotten 
child; and in this remembrance is laid 
the fotmdation of a new social order. 
The neglected people will rise and with 
them will rise all the people. 



The School That Built a Town 



THE SCHOOL THAT BUILT A 

TOWN 

[Ah Address delivered at the Commencement of the 
State Normal School at Athens , Ga., December 
II, 1901,"] 

I HEARTILY thank you for your 
invitation to come here; for I 
think that your school stands 
for as usef til work as any work done in 
the world. 

The training of children in the pub- 
lic schools gives exercise to the highest 
qtialities — sympathy, self-sacrifice, the 
love of every human creature and the 
love of our country. These are the 
virtues that make men and women 
strong and lovely. 
Your work also brings results of the 

SI 



52 THE SCHOOL THAT 

highest value. The American people 
of this generation are a people of great 
practical skill ; but the American people 
of the next generation, the Georgians 
among them if you do your task well, 
will be the most efficient people on 
the earth. 

Your work, too, is free from doubt. 
There is work that men must do without 
enthusiasm. There is work that brings 
only the unrelieved weariness of toil 
and a plodding gait. But the direct 
value of what you do is free from doubt 
in all sotmd minds ; for you are building 
the noblest fabric of society, which is a 
world-conquering trained democracy. 
Whatever others may be doing, then, 
you are working with the central 
secret of human progress; and it is an 
inspiration to see you. 

And now, if I can repay you at all, 



BUILT A TOWN S3 

it must be by telling you the story of 
the school that built a town. 

It is the town of Northwood. Its 
early history is like the early history 
of hundreds of other American towns. 
The people who lived there were mer- 
chants, lawyers, preachers, doctors; 
a rich man or two; a few men that 
had workshops and those that worked 
for them: carpenters, clerks, labourers, 
a few loafers, a few rum sellers — the 
same kind of population that you could 
find almost anywhere in the Union. 
They were people of sturdy stock and 
good qualities. Most of them were of 
American parentage; but there were 
Germans, Irish, Jews and two French- 
men — one a dancing master, who taught 
fencing also, and the other a teacher of 
his language. And life went on there 
as life goes on in all such commtmities. 
The people were pretty well-oflE. When 



54 THE SCHOOL THAT 

court was in session many countrymen 
came to town, and all the loafers 
gathered about the court-house, and 
the lawyers gave the hotel an air of 
importance as if it were a big hotel in 
a big town. The farmers filled the 
market place on Saturday and the 
stores and the grog-shops drove a 
thriving trade. But the savings bank 
had many depositors, the churches 
were well filled on Sunday, and the 
Sunday-schools swarmed with pretty 
children; for it was a town of large 
families. 

And there were schools of course. 
One was kept by a good lady who had 
studied French and music in her youth 
and who held on in her widowhood 
to the memories of her triumphs 
which still threw a gentle halo over 
her. She taught at her home a group 
of the best-bred children of the town. 



BUILT A TOWN 55 

She taught them to speak with a cer- 
tain prim correctness, and at the end 
of every term she coached them to 
stand in their pretty frocks and clean 
breeches in a pretty row and to recite 
pretty verses and to make a pretty 
bow to their mothers. They took 
home good reports and their parents 
said that they were very fortimate to 
have so cultivated a lady to teach 
their children. 

There was another school kept by 
another lady. She was yoimg and 
energetic and she put emphasis on 
modem methods of education. She 
had the real Frenchman to teach 
French. She laid great stress on calis- 
thenics and she put on g5minasium 
clothes herself and led the children in 
their exercises. She was a yotmg 
woman of great physical vigour, and 
naturally the children of strenuous 




THE SCHOOL THAT 

parents came to her school and they 
boasted that she made it her business 
to teach, not to confer a social dis- 
tinction on her pupils. 

Then there was a school for boys 
at which they were prepared for busi- 
ness or for college, and it was a good 
academy of the old sort. Two men 
owned and conducted it. One was an 
old-fashioned scholar who made the 
boys learn the Latin grammar by heart, 
and who flogged them when they failed ; 
and he was looked upon as men afar off 
look upon stem Learning, If you 
could have taken the popular con- 
ception of the Higher Education, clothed 
it in flesh and put a plug hat on it, you 
would have had that man. If you 
had met him in the street for the first 
time, you would have known his calling 
and could have guessed his history; 
for he had won prizes at the university 




BUILT A TOWN S7 

in his classical studies. It was some- 
times said that he recited Horace to 
himself with his eyes shut while he 
pretended to look at the boys play 
baseball. His partner was a book- 
keeper and a business man who taught 
the boys that were taking the com- 
mercial course to keep accotmts and 
to write a plain hand; and he taught 
the English branches also. The boys 
who attended this school were the 
sons of the best-to-do families of the 
town, and there were boarding pupils 
too. 

Then still another school was es- 
tablished in Northwood when the town 
had grown a Uttle bigger. This was a 
seminary for yotmg ladies, and it was 
a church-school. A preacher and his 
wife were the principals; and, besides 
the girls that lived in the town, a good 
many came from a distance. The 



58 THE SCHOOL THAT 

church had supplied the money to 
build a large house for it, and the 
young ladies' seminary was one of 
the things that a part of the town was 
proudest of. Most of its pupils came 
from families that held the faith of 
the church that had bmlt it. The 
girls of other religious faiths were 
sent away to finishing schools which 
were under the management of their 
own chitrches. 

Nor were the poor forgotten ; for the 
people took pride also in providing a 
public school. The building was not 
large, nor the equipment worth men- 
tioning; and two young women were 
engaged at very low salaries to conduct 
it. They were generally selected be- 
cause they needed the salaries ; and the 
teachers were changed every year or 
two, sometimes because they got ttred, 
and sometimes because they got mar- 



BUILT A TOWN 59 

ried, but oftenest because there were 
other young women who wanted the 
places, and turn about was regarded as 
fair play, 

No man could say, therefore, that 
Northwood was not well supplied with 
schools. When a stranger went to the 
town, the people boasted to him of 
their zeal in education. But the town 
grew bigger, and almost every year 
there were changes in the schools. One 
year the cultivated old lady's school 
for children was split into two, not 
because of anything that happened 
in the school, but because of a church 
quarrel in the social set that patronized 
it. Another year the dismissal of a 
teacher in the yotmg ladies' seminary 
caused a heated discussion throughout 
the church and two factions sprung up. 
The resignation of the principal's wife 
was demanded; and the principal him- 



6o THE SCHOOL THAT 

self had the hard fortune to be obliged 
to choose between his wife and his 
ecclesiastical superiors. All these un- 
happy events caused much gossip at 
the tea-parties of the other chtu'ches, 
and one of them established a modest 
school for girls of its own. It was this 
same year that the sturdy old master 
of the boys* school died, and so many 
people lacked confidence in his partner 
that its patronage seriously fell off. 
In a year or two he ceased to teach and 
became a life instuance agent. A 
young scholar from the university then 
came and took up the remnants of the 
school and did the best he could with 
it During these eight or ten years of 
such recurrent misfortunes, there grew 
up, perhaps half a dozen more schools 
for children. Almost every social set 
found that there was a lady in it who 
had some particular reason for teaching, 



BUILT A TOWN 6i 

and her friends of cotirse sent their 
children to her; and thus the educa- 
tional advantages of the town con- 
tinued to be unusual. For, with every 
social division among the people and 
with every church difference, schools 
continued to multiply. 

These events in the life of the town 
covered a good many years. It had 
grown somewhat ; but it had not grown 
rapidly. It was essentially the same 
kind of town that it had been ten 
years before. Yet important changes 
had been going on, and the most im- 
portant was the change in the public 
school. It became so crowded with 
the children of the poorer class that 
it was necessary to build a second 
school-house. This was built in the 
end of the town where well-to-do 
people lived, and more and more of 
them took to sending their children to it. 



62 THE SCHOOL THAT 

About that time a greater interest 
was taken in public school education 
throughout the State. The univer- 
sity had been made free to every pupil 
in the Commonwealth who was pre- 
pared to enter it, and the public school 
system was much talked about and 
developed. 

It so happened that the principal 
of one of the public schools in North- 
wood at that time was an uncommonly 
energetic man — a man who knew how 
to manage men. He made a very 
careful study of the population, and 
this is what he fpund— that, in spite 
of all the schools in the town, there 
were a great many children that were 
not at school at all. There were many 
more of them than anybody would 
have believed. He found also that 
even those that got a smattering of 
book-learning got nothing else, and 



1 



li^k 



BUILT A TOWN 63 

that few received further instruction 
than the schools in the town gave. 
He made a list of all the families in 
Northwood, and it filled a book almost 
as big as a banker's ledger. He put 
down in it the boys and the girls whose 
education was prematurely arrested. 
One night he sat down with the sum- 
mary of this book before him, and he 
said to himself, "These people are not 
in earnest about education; they are 
simply playing with it and are fooling 
themselves. " 

He showed this summary first to one 
man, then to another. In this way 
first one man and then another was led 
to think about the subject in a new 
way. I need not tire you with the 
details of the agitation that followed; 
for it extended over many years. But 
the result was that a third public 
school was built. Then sometime later 



64 THE SCHOOL THAT 

a high-school was built. In a few 
years it was found inadequate, and 
the building was used as still another 
primary public school and a larger 
house was put up for the high-school. 
By this time the public schools had 
ceased to be regarded as schools for 
the poor. They were the best schools 
in the town, and almost all the people 
in the town sent their children to them. 
Long ago, the old scramble about 
teachers had ceased. Influential citi- 
zens had stopped trying to get places 
for their widowed daughters-in-law and 
their wives' nieces in the schools be- 
cause they needed work. Only well- 
trained teachers, as a rule, were en- 
gaged. The best men in the town 
served on the school-board, and they 
had got so tired of the scramble for 
places that they had a law passed by 
the legislature which permitted them 



1 



BUILT A TOWN 65 

to appoint a school director, who in 
turn could himself appoint teachers, 
and nobody else cotdd. They held 
him responsible; and, since he was not 
elected, he had no temptation to ap- 
point incompetent ones. 

With the feeling of security, every 
school principal and teacher became 
courageous. Especially courageous was 
the principal of the high-school. He 
put a carpenter-shop in the base- 
ment which developed into a wood- 
working department, and he graded 
the pupils on their course in wood- 
work just as he graded them in any 
book-study. This pleased the people. 
They said that he was "practical." 
But he took the trouble to explain that 
he was not training carpenters, and he 
insisted that they must not mis- 
imderstand him. 

But the plan was so popular that a 



66 THE SCHOOL THAT 

well-to-do btiilder, whose son had taken 
a great interest in the wood-working 
course, gave the school a very much 
better shop. Then by some other 
stroke of good luck (I've forgotten the 
details of the story) a shop was added 
for work in iron — ^a little shop, almost 
a toy-shop; but the children were 
taught there. Then came a garden, 
for a qtiarter of an acre was set aside 
and the children learned to plant and 
to work things that grow. In the 
meantime a small chemical laboratory 
had been fitted up, and a physical 
laboratory as well. Then a separate 
building was given for use as a g3rm- 
nasium. Somebody gave a small library. 
At a public meeting a year or two 
later it was decided to build a public 
library next the school-house. 

Workshops, a garden, laboratories, 
a library, a gymnasium — ^there were 



BUILT A TOWN 67 

other things as well. A kitchen was 
built and the girls were taught to cook. 
Then a dozen other things came along, 
such as basket-making; singing was 
taught uncommonly well, and nearly- 
all the young people learned to sing. 
And the school had an orchestra. 
Every boy and girl took a course of 
work with the hands as well as with 
the head; and it was discovered that 
the head-work was the better done for 
the hand-work. 

At last a generation had grown up 
that had been educated in the public 
schools of Northwood. Nearly every 
useful man in the town and most of 
the useful women were high-school 
graduates. They made the social life 
of the town. The doctor, the dentist, 
the preacher, the mayor, even the 
Governor, most of the merchants, the 
owner of a knitting mill, the owner of 



a furniture factory, the owner of a 
great tin-shop, the owner of a wagon 
factory — all sorts of successful men 
had been graduated at this school and 
most of them had got the impulse 
there that shaped their careers. 

And the high-school was both the 
intellectual and the industrial centre 
of the town and of the region. The 
scholars went there to the library ; the 
farmers went there to consult the 
chemist or the entomologist; men of 
almost all crafts and callings found an 
authority there. For this high-school 
had now become what we should call 
a college and a very well organized one 
too. 

In the first period of Northwood's 
history, you will observe, the town 
carried the schools — carried them as a 
burden. The schools of the cultivated 
widow, the strenuous young lady and 



BUILT A TOWN 69 

the old fashioned scholar and the young 
ladies' seminary, much as the several sets 
and sects each boasted of its own in- 
stitution, were really tolerated rather 
than generously supported. The prin- 
cipals had to beg for them in one form 
or other. The public school was re- 
garded as a sort of orphan asylum for 
the poor. The whole educational work 
of the town was on a semi-mendicant 
basis; or it was half a sort of social 
ftmction, half a sort of charity. It 
really did not touch the intellectual life 
of the people. They supported it. 
It did not lift them. The town carried 
the schools as social and charitable 
burdens. 

Now this is all changed. The school 
has made the town. It has given 
nearly every successful man in it his 
first impulse in his career, and it has 
given the conmiunity great renown. 



70 THE SCHOOL THAT 

Teachers from all over the country go 
there to see it. More than that, many 
pupils go from a distance to enter the 
high-school. More than that, men have 
gone there to live because of the school. 
They go there to establish industries 
of various sorts, because the best ex- 
pert knowledge of every craft can be 
fotmd there. The town has prospered 
and has been rebuilt. The architects 
are high-school men ; the engineers who 
graded the streets and made a model 
system of sewers are high-school men; 
the roads were laid out by high-school 
men. There is a whole cotmty of 
model farms and dairies and good stock 
farms. High-school men have in this 
generation made the community a 
new community. They conduct all 
sorts of factories — ^they make furniture, 
they make things of leather, they make 
things of wrought iron; they have 



BUILT A TOWN 71 

hundreds of small industries. It is 
said that a third of the houses in the 
town contain home-made furniture after 
beautiful old patterns that the owners 
themselves have made. And there is 
one man who does inlaid work in wood. 
And all this activity clusters about 
the public schools. The high-school 
now not only affects but it may be 
said to dominate the life of the town; 
and this is the school that has btiilt the 
town, for it has given everybody an im- 
petus and has started nearly everybody 
towards an occupation. It has enabled 
them to find their own aptitudes. 

Now there is all the difference in the 
world between the Northwood of this 
generation, and the Northwood of the 
generation before. It is a difference 
so great that it cannot be told in one 
morning. But the change is simply the 
result of a changed view of education. 



THE SCHOOL THAT 

Education, Ladies and Gentlemen, 
when it is dallied with, played with, 
tolerated, and imperfectly done, is a 
costly and troublesome thing. In the 
first place it is talked to death. It 
causes more discussion than politics 
or than bad crops. There are many 
persons who do not believe in it and 
many more who wish they did not and 
could get rid of the bother of it. 

But when education becomes not 
only part and parcel of the life of the 
people, but a thing that they have all 
profited by — a thing that underlies 
Hfe as the soil underlies the growth in 
the garden — -then education becomes 
cheap and easy. Nobody asks what 
it costs, nobody questions its benefits, 
nobody harbours a doubt about it. 

In one case the community grudg- 
ingly supports its schools as a burden. 
In the other case, the schools build the 



BUILT A TOWN 73 

community. And this is the lesson of 
Northwood. 

The difference between one concep- 
tion of education and the other, when 
it dawns on a man, changes his whole 
attitude towards teaching and towards 
social problems and towards the State. 
He becomes another man. For one 
view is selfish and the other is patriotic. 
One tmdertakes to develop a few men 
and women and it fails because no 
man can be really well developed in a 
commtmity of undeveloped men. This 
is one reason why isolated scholars are 
so often impracticable, and this is the 
reason why many business men tell you 
that they do not believe in college 
education. The other conception of 
education is that it trains all the 
members of a commimity and thus 
enables every one to find his natural 
aptitudes. 



74 THE SCHOOL THAT 

To carry on education as a privilege 
is to mistrain some and to leave the 
others untrained. To carry it on as a 
universal duty is to open to every one 
his natural opportunity, to enable every 
one to find himself and to find his use- 
fulness to his fellows. It is to give 
balance and flexibiUty and symmetry 
to the whole conmiunity. 

Has any man here doubt about this ? 
Does any man think that I am spin- 
ning a pretty theory? Does any man 
still hold to the notion that, if the 
children of the rich are sent off to 
college, and the children of the poor 
have a little "schooling" so that they 
can read a newspaper and calculate 
the cost of a bale of cotton, we shall 
continue to get along tolerably well? 
Is any man here opposed to building a 
good school-house in every school- 
district of Georgia, and to employing 



BUILT A TOWN 75 

the best teachers in the world and to 
making the school a training-place 
for every child in the district — one for 
whites and one for blacks? If you 
hold these notions, you are a dead 
weight on Georgia. You are one of 
the reasons why its property is not 
now worth five times what it is. You 
are one of the reasons why the pro- 
ducts of its soil are not five times as 
great as they are, for such schools as I 
mean would make most farmers highly 
successful farmers. You are one reason 
why the population of the State is not 
twice or thrice what it is; for such 
schools as I mean would attract good 
people from every part of the world, 
and cause more children to grow to 
healthful maturity. You are one of 
the reasons why Georgia is not one of 
the greatest manufacturing States in 
the Union, for such schools as I mean 



76 THE SCHOOL THAT 

would turn thousands of the best- 
trained hands and minds to the making 
of beautiful and useful things. You 
are one of the reasons why the Georgians 
have not more scholars, more orators, 
more organizers of industry, more own- 
ers of beautiful homes, more horses 
and cattle and grass and fruit and more 
good roads and more strong men and 
more lovely women and more beautiful 
children than any other State in the 
Union. Last of all, you are not a 
democrat. You have never thoroughly 
read Thomas Jefferson. You do not 
know that his ideal State was a State in 
which every man was trained at the 
public expense. You are a frayed-out 
"knight" of feudal times with a faded 
plume, and you think in terms of the 
Middle Ages ; and the sooner you know it 
the better for the community, and I am 
glad of a chance plainly to tell you so. 



BUILT A TOWN 77 

Of course, Ladies and Gentlemen, 
there is no such man in your com- 
munity. Perhaps there is no such 
man in all Georgia. But there are 
men in every commtmity and in every 
State in the Union who even yet do not 
know the full meaning of what you are 
doing. For what are you doing ? You 
are not mere teachers of children as 
the widow and the old scholar and the 
old preacher in Northwood were. You 
are also the builders of a new social 
order. The future of Georgia is in 
your hands. You are the high servants 
of the State, but for that very reason 
you are not the servants of any sect 
or party or class, and sects and parties 
and classes must keep their hands off 
you. You must be free — ^you of all 
men and women. 

It falls to you to make it plain by 
your work and by your bearing that 



78 THE SCHOOL THAT 

yours is the most patriotic and the 
most important service that any class 
gives to the State. You must stand 
up for what you stand for. You know 
what you are trying to do. Others 
have various vague notions of social 
growth. You know that there is only 
one true science of building a stable 
and broad-based democratic social 
structtire. You know what you need 
for yotu" work. Demand it as a right 
in the name of the children of the 
Commonwealth. In other words, never 
for a moment be afraid of that dying 
body of opinion which looks on the 
public school as a sort of educational 
orphan asylum. Stand to it, that it is 
the nursery of the leaders of the world, 
as by the high virtue of our invincible 
democracy it is! 

But to return to the school at North- 



BUILT A TOWN 79 

wood. The diploma given by the school 
tells something more definite than 
most diplomas tell, and every diploma 
does not tell the same thing. One 
recites what courses of study a boy has 
taken and how well he has mastered 
them. But it tells also that he can 
swim well, that he can do work in iron, 
that he can draw, that he has good 
muscles. It tells, too, that he is per- 
sistent and plucky, and that he is tm- 
selfish and thrifty. The diploma is 
made to fit the boy, not the boy to fit 
the diploma. It tells what sort of 
boy he is, what he has done, and what 
he is good for. A diploma given to a 
girl likewise tells frankly the character 
and the equipment of that particular 
girl ; for the people of Northwood are so 
much in earnest about education that 
they have learned to be perfectly 
frank. The diploma will tell that the 



8o THE SCHOOL THAT 

girl is of sound body, that she can 
sing, that she can row, and it plainly 
says that she has good manners ; it tells 
her good qnahties of mind and of 
temper, as well as the success with 
which she has pursued her studies. 
It tells that she can lay out and work 
a garden of roses or of potatoes. If all 
the diplomas given to all the graduates 
were the same, they would not value 
them. 

The school, you understand, is not 
a mere workshop, nor is it a place to 
learn a trade. It does not make car- 
penters of boys nor cooks of girls. 
Nor does it make Greek scholars or poets 
or musicians of them. But it comes 
as near to making them the one thing 
as the other. It comes as near to making 
cooks and chemists and farmers as it 
comes to making scholars. For those 
high schools and colleges that teach 



BUILT A TOWN 8i 

only books and train only the mind 
and not the hands, — they do not really 
make scholars as we used to suppose 
that they did. The utmost that they 
do is to teach the boy the rudiments 
of scholarship and the method of work 
by which, if he persist, he may some 
day become a scholar. This school 
does the same thing in scholarship, 
but it does also a corresponding thing 
in hand-work. The old kind of teach- 
ers simply fooled themselves and mis- 
led their pupils and the commtmity 
when they assimied that their courses 
in literature and the like made scholars. 
And what a wasteful self-deception it 
was ! In Northwood, one boy may, if 
he persist, become a scholar; another a 
wheelwright; another a farmer; and so 
on. And it is foimd that by doing 
hand-work also the pupils do better 
head-work as well. It simply opens to 



82 THE SCHOOL THAT 

all the intellecttial life and the way to 
useful occupations at the same time. 

There are two things that they are 
all taught in that school. They are 
taught to write a plain hand-writing, 
and they look upon a bad hand-writing 
as they look upon neglect of dress — it 
is the mark of a sloven. And they are 
all taught to write the English language 
in short clear sentences, so that any- 
body can tmderstand what they write. 

Now let us see how the people of 
Northwood themselves look at educa- 
tion. The simplicity of the work of 
the school is what first strikes you. 
And you find this same simplicity in 
the people's conception of education. 
They do not call it education. They 
call it training. They speak of a boy 
as trained in Greek or in metal-work; 
and of a girl as trained to sing or to 
draw or to cook. This frank and simple 



BUILT A TOWN 83 

way of looking at school-work has 
changed their whole conception of 
education. It has brushed away a vast 
amount of nonsense, and cleaned the 
mind of a great accumulation of cob- 
webs. For one thing nobody in that 
town makes addresses on the need of 
education. A man would as soon 
think of making an address on the 
necessity of the atmosphere, or of fuel, 
or of bread. And you never hear any- 
thing about elaborate systems of edu- 
cation, or the co-ordination of studies, 
or the psychology of the unrelated. 

They look at the trades and the pro- 
fessions in the same simple way. They 
say that one man has been trained as a 
physician, that another has been trained 
as a farmer, that another has been 
trained as a preacher, that another has 
been trained as a builder, another as a 
machinist; and they lay less stress on 



84 THE SCHOOL THAT 

what a man chooses to do than upon 
the way in which he does it. It is 
respectable to have any calling you like, 
provided you are trained to it; but it 
isn't respectable to have any calling 
unless you are trained. The town for 
this reason is not divided into the 
same sort of sets and classes that you 
find in most towns. There is not one 
class that puts on airs and regards 
itself as the Educated Class, to which 
all other classes are supposed to pay 
deference. Of course some men read 
more books than others ; some are more 
cultivated than others, and there are 
social divisions of the people there as 
there are the world over. But when 
everybody knows how to do something 
well, SL man who does one thing well en- 
joys no particular distinction. A jack- 
leg lawyer can't compel any great respect 
from a really scientific horseshoer. The 



BUILT A TOWN 85 

mastery of anything is a wonderful 
elevator of character and judgment. 

Next to their simple and straight- 
forward way of looking at education 
what strikes you most about the people 
of Northwood is their universal interest 
in the school. Apparently everybody 
has now been trained there. But when 
one man thinks of the school he thinks 
of the library ; another of the laboratory ; 
another of the workshop; another, of 
music; another of chemistry. Books 
are only one kind of tools, and the 
other kinds are co-ordinate with them. 
And everybody goes to the great school- 
house more or less often. The singers 
give their concerts there. I was there 
once when a yoimg man gave a per- 
formance of a musical composition 
of his own, and at another time when 
a man showed the first bicycle that 
had been made in the town. In three 



86 THE SCHOOL THAT 

months he had a bicycle factory. 
Everybody is linked to the school by 
his work, and there is, therefore, no 
school party and no anti-school party 
in local politics. There is no social 
set that looks down on the school. 
The school built the town, and it is the 
town. It has grown beyond all social 
distinctions and religious differences 
and differences of personal fortune. 
It has united the people, and they look 
upon it as the training place in which 
everybody is interested alike, just as 
they look upon the coiut-house as the 
place where every man is on the same 
footing. The fathers of our liberties 
made the court-house every man's 
house. The equally important truth 
is that we must, in the same way, 
make the public school-house every- 
body's house before we can establish 
the right notion of education. 



BUILT A TOWN 87 

Now no wise man has anything to 
say against church schools or private 
schools in their right places; for both 
have their uses. But the history 
of civilization has proved over and 
over again that no church and no 
private means can ever overcome the 
social and financial and political and 
religious differences of people and build 
a training place for all. Nothing has 
ever done this and nothing ever can 
do it but a public institution that is 
maintained by taxation and that be- 
longs to all the people alike. 

And now we come to the very heart 
of the matter. To talk about educa- 
tion in a democratic country as mean- 
ing anything else than free public 
education for every child, is a mockery. 
To call anjrthing else education at all 
is to go back towards the Middle Ages, 
when it was regarded as a privilege of 



88 THE SCHOOL THAT 

gentlemen or as a duty of the church 
and not as a necessity for the people. 

If a few men only are to be educated, 
the accidents of fortune determine 
which they shall be. These will regard 
themselves as a special class, set oflf 
by themselves; and a false standard 
of education is set up both in the minds 
of the educated and in the minds of 
the uneducated. The uneducated re- 
gard themselves as neglected. You 
have the seeds of snobbery and of 
discontent sowed over all the wide 
wastes of social life, and the uneducated 
part of the State simply adds to its 
inertia rather than to its wealth and 
health. 

But even this false conception of 
education is not the worst result of a 
system that benefits only a few. If 
only a part of any community be trained, 
the very part that needs training 



BUILT A TOWN 89 

least is the part that gets it. It is the 
ignorant that are neglected, and the 
State thus goes steadily down. For 
those that are predisposed to ignor- 
ance and idleness and a lack of occupa- 
tion are the very members of the com- 
munity that ought not under any cir- 
cumstances to be neglected. There 
is, therefore, no way under Heaven 
to train those who need training most 
but by training everybody at the public 
expense. 

More than this (for democracy has 
the quality of giving constant sur- 
prises) it is always more than likely 
that among the neglected are those 
that would become the most capable 
if they were trained. Society forever 
needs reinforcements from the rear. 
It is a shining day in any educated 
man's growth when he comes to see 
and to know and to feel and freely to 



90 THE SCHOOL THAT 

admit that it is just as important to 
the world that the ragamuffin child 
of his worthless neighbour should be 
trained as it is that his own child 
should be. Until a man sees this he 
cannot become a worthy democrat 
nor get a patriotic conception of edu- 
cation; for no man has known the 
deep meaning of democracy or felt 
either its obligation or its lift till he 
has seen this truth clearly. 

There is another pectdiarity about 
the people of Northwood that you will 
notice. They talk about the proper 
training of men, but you never hear 
them say much about the natural re- 
sources of their community. When I 
went there, I recalled that some of 
our Southern people used to talk much 
about our natural resources and to invite 
all the world to come and live with 



BUILT A TOWN 91 

them, because they had good air and 
good water and good soil and good 
timber and gold and iron under the 
groimd — in other words, because God 
had been generous to the land. Well, 
the truth is, the land was really richer 
when the Indians held it than it is now ; 
the water was just as good, the air 
just as pure, and there were more 
forests and more iron and gold than 
there are now. For that matter, there 
are undeveloped regions in South Amer- 
ica that have many natural advantages 
even over the great and varied natural 
advantages of Georgia. 

This programme of inviting settlers 
was a programme of sheer dependence 
on Nature. It implied the old con- 
ception of education, the old con- 
ception of wealth-creation; for it took 
no account, or little account, of the 
part that men play in making wealth. 



92 



THE SCHOOL THAT 



God might make a land as fertile as 
Eden and underlay it with gold and 
stock it with venison and quail; yet 
it would yield no more than men made 
it yield. Within reasonable limits, it 
matters little what Nature has done 
for a coiuitry. If you take any land 
in the temperate zone and put well- 
trained men there, the land will turn 
out to be all right. What did Natiu*e 
do for Holland, which is the most 
densely peopled coimtry of Europe. 
and one of the most thrifty and happy ? 
Nature overflowed it with the sea, and 
man had to reclaim the very soil he 
Kves on. On the other hand, the 
city that was the capital of the Roman 
Empire is now to a great degree un- 
inhabitable for malaria and fevers, 
and the Grecian archipelago itself does 
not attract modem immigration. But 
the land of the Pharaohs does, after 



J 



BUILT A TOWN 93 

the neglect of centuries, because it is 
under trained English administration. 
Iknowapartof our own country so poor 
in natural resources that God must 
have forgotten to finish it; yet the 
people who live there make more kinds 
of useful and beautiful things than 
the same number of people make 
an3rwhere else in America and more 
of them are rich or well-to-do than 
the people in any other part of the 
country. And education engages as 
large a part of the population as any 
other single industry, and there is as 
much money spent on school-houses 
and their equipment and on libraries as 
is spent in the equipment of any single 
industry. 

While natural resources count for 
much, the commtuiity where the people 
are trained to profitable industry is 
the commtmity to which other men will 



I 



94 THE SCHOOL THAT 

go to live, and they will go from all 
parts of the world. After the first 
pioneer settlements are made, it is 
trained men that attract men rather 
than natural resources. The right 
training of men is a better thing than 
the bounty of Nature itself. Nattu^ 
alone never made prosperous States. 

But what commonplace things are 
these that I tire you with 1 They are 
only the A. B. C. of your philosophy and 
of your work. Yet if any should ask 
for proof of this doctrine, that it is the 
training of men that makes a country 
great, let him take a chapter out of 
the current history of the United 
States. The most remarkable spectacle 
that has ever been seen in the world is 
the spectacle of the trained American 
people at work to-day. From one 
ocean to the other they are so doing 



BUILT A TOWN 95 

their daily labour that the products of 
their skill as well as the products of 
their soil are invading not only every 
new land, but every country of the 
Old World as well and the sleeping 
Orient to boot. In London the Eng- 
lishman will soon go from his home to 
his office on an electric railway owned 
by Americans. He wears American 
shoes and uses American cutlery. If 
you cross Southern Europe on one 
of the fastest express trains, you will 
be drawn by an American locomotive. 
In Spain itself they use American 
engines and American machinery. And 
American locomotives whistle in African 
jungles and climb the Andes, and run 
across Japan. We have built bridges 
over rivers on the road to Mandalay. 
American electrical machinery lights 
the southernmost beacon on the globe 
in Terra del Fuego, and American 



96 



THE SCHOOL THAT 



machinery cuts timber at the northern- 
most lumber camps in Sweden, ahnost 
under the midnight sun, whither it 
was drawn on reindeer sleds. The 
lantern of Aladdin has been superseded 
in Bagdad by American lamps. The 
coolies that fanned Indian princes have 
lost their job, for American electric 
fans do it better. We send laundry 
machinery to Shanghai, and brewing 
apparatus to Germany. 

And it is not by mechanical work 
and mechanical achievements on]y that 
the trained American is covering the 
earth with his influence. We are bring- 
ing civiUzation and order to long 
neglected islands on both sides of the 
globe and proving that the true gov- 
ernment of colonies is to teach them 
to govern themselves. We prevailed 
against the powers that prey in pre- 
venting the partition of China. 



BUILT A TOWN 97 

These achievements have a deeper 
meaning than the mere skill they show 
in diplomacy, in administration, in 
organization, in artisanship, and in 
trade, though the meaning of these is 
deep enough. They show that we 
have learned something in the training 
of men that no other people has learned, 
some method whereby every man may 
find his aptitude and may reach his 
most natural development. They show 
that we have found the secret of pre- 
serving the mobility of society whereby 
individuals may reach the highest effi- 
ciency with some certainty and not 
by chance. 

The only advantage that Americans 
have over their kinsmen of the Old 
World is the advantage of free demo- 
cratic training. We are no more capa- 
ble by nature than the English, and 
we are not as well trained as the Ger- 



THE SCHOOL THAT 

mans, but we have greater social mobil- 
ity, which is the very essence of demo- 
cratic training. We have built a type 
of society that permits more men to 
find their natural places in it. And 
thus it is that the greatest contribution 
to social science, to the science of 
training men and of building States, 
is the demonstration that we have 
made of the ever-re-creative and ever- 
renewing quality of democratic society. 
If the triumphs of trained democracy 
that are now filling the world with 
talk and wonder prove that the first 
duty of the State is the right training 
of all its children, see what this means 
for Georgia ! There are more than two 
million pairs of hands and brains in 
Georgia. If they were all trained to 
wasteless work and to straight thought 
while they work, men would soon 
come from every land to learn of you. 



d 



BUILT A TOWN 99 

No other part of the globe would be 
so rich, no other part of the multitudin- 
ous swarms of mankind would be so 
blest. What would you have yotir 
Commonwealth become? The train- 
ing place of the peaceful conquerors 
of the world? You have the material 
for making it so. The neglected boy 
of your sandhills might become, if he 
were rightly trained, a strong leader 
of men or a creator of great wealth. 
The tangle-haired girl that plays in 
your gulleys might become the mother 
of a greater statesman than you have 
yet bred. By training every one of 
them, but not by training some only, 
to a useful occupation and a steady 
balance of body and mind, in two 
generations, even before many of us here 
shall die, you may have more wealth, 
a better diffused well-being, a more 
robust manhood, greater grace, than 



k 



loo THE SCHOOL THAT 

Georgia in all her generations has 
yet had, and more renown than all 
the deeds of all her honourable sons 
have yet brought her. 

Have you not merely played with 
education and missed the meaning 
of it, regarding it as an incident of 
juvenile life, or as a thing to confer a 
little distinction in conventional society ? 
Have you kept it in mind that it is 
the science of building commonwealths? 
When you see its full meaning your 
State will grow under the patriotic 
ministrations of these its consecrated 
servants as well-tended gardens grow 
under the nurture of your Southern 
sun. And the Georgia of to-day, pros- 
perous and fortunate as it is, is but a 
raw wilderness in comparison with 
the Georgia that may be. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of this state- 




BUILT A TOWN loi 

creative craft, the happiest of mortals 
have always been those who have 
worked under a great inspiration. 
Happiest of men and women are you, 
then, who have an inspiration that 
none has had since the fathers of our 
Republic. For you have dedicated 
yourselves to the most solemn high 
service of democracy; and the mute 
appeal of neglected children is to you 
the voice of God. It is your privilege 
to lead them who have been forgotten 
through the wide-swinging doors of 
opportunity ; and thus you will develop 
the richest neglected resources of civili- 
zation. I feel honoured to applaud 
you as you go forth, not as workers for 
wages, but as rebuilders of this Com- 
monwealth on a broader foundation 
than the fathers laid. 

You whose privilege it is to labour 
here and we who have the pleasure 



i 



I02 THE SCHOOL THAT 

to applaud you — let us together recite 
this creed: 

/ believe in the free public training of 
both the hands and the mind of every 
child born of woman. 

I believe that by the right training of 
men we add to the wealth of the world. 
All wealth is the creation of man, and 
he creates it only in proportion to the 
trained uses of the community; and, 
the more men we train, the more wealth 
everyone may create. 

I believe in the perpetual regeneration 
of society, in the immortality of democ- 
racy, and in growth everlasting. 

We who have seen this truth have 
been changed by it; and we can never 
fall away from it. We have an in- 
exhaustible supply of energy and a 
boundless hope. We work with joy 
for the love of our fellows and for our 
faith in them. We cannot rest for the 



A 



BUILT A TOWN 103 

glory of democracy as it has been 
revealed to us, for we are caught in the 
swing of its orbic movement. And 
we cannot recant even at the bidding 
of all the *' solemn plausibilities of the 
world." We have learned the central 
secret of human progress. Since civi- 
lization began, religions and state- 
craft, priests and conquerors, cliques 
and classes, sects and sections of 
society have played for the leadership 
of man. We play for it, too ; and we 
hold the master trick against them all; 
for, when we win, man leads himself • 



The 
Rebuilding of Old Commonwealths 



THE REBUILDING OF OLD 
COMMONWEALTHS 

[Reprinted front ** The Atlantic Monthly" for 
May, igo2.] 

I HAVE lately been to a neighbotir- 
hood in one of the Southern 
States that I knew twenty-five 
years ago. The railway station was 
then a flimsy shanty that the country 
merchant had himself built in payment 
for the railroad's stopping its one daily 
passenger train if it were signalled. It 
stopped twice or thrice a week and the 
passenger who got off or on felt himself 
a person with privileges. The one daily 
freight train stopped as seldom; and, 
when it stopped, it put off a box or a 
barrel for the merchant, but I think it 

107 



io8 THE REBUILDING OP 

never took anything on. Three families 
of importance lived near the railway sta- 
tion, and the little settlement dwindled 
down the muddy road to a dozen Negro 
shanties. All roimd about was a 
coimtry population on small farms, 
and further away there were the wrecks 
of two old plantations. 

In the neighbourhood were a Method- 
ist church and a Baptist church. 
" Mother, " said a pious Methodist girl of 
eighteen, " is it impossible for an 
Episcopalian to be saved?" For still 
the circuit-riding preacher at "revival" 
times insisted that the grace of God 
fell short of saving them that danced 
and played cards. The young people 
and occasionally a hoary sinner went 
to the mourners' bench and were duly 
"converted." Then the commimity 
rested from disturbing questions of 
faith till the Baptist "revival" came 




OLD COMMONWEALTHS 109 

and the Elder insisted on the necessity 
of immersion. 

There was a shanty down the road 
that was used for a school-house. A 
young woman taught a dozen children 
for $1 a month each till she was married. 
Then there was no school for two years. 
For a generation or two it had an in- 
termittent life. A public school was 
kept for the very poor in a hut a mile 
away in the woods for about six weeks 
a year. Life ran easy and life ran slow. 
Politics and religion, each in its season, 
the crops and the promise of peaches, 
stories of fox-hunting and sometimes 
reminiscences of the war were the 
staples of conversation. 

Two railroads now run by the town 
and you may take a sleeping car on 
either one and go to New York in 
twenty hours, whereas twenty years 
ago it was a journey of fifty or sixty 



no THE REBUILDING OP 



hours with several stops and there 
was no sleeping car. The town has 
mills and shops and paved streets and 
electric lights, a well-maintained pri- 
vate school and two public schools, 
one for whites and one for blacks. 
Society still divides itself Into church- 
groups, but the violence of religious 
controversy is abated, especially among 
the men ; for they now discuss the price 
of certain stocks in New York. Even 
whist parties are held at the home of a 
man of Baptist antecedents. The men 
have a wider range of activities and 
the women have more clothes. The 
spread of well-being has been general. 
The inteilectual life has been quickened, 
although it yet shows some of its struc- 
tural peculiarities. The people are be- 
coming like village-folk wherever they 
have been touched but not radically 
changed by material prosperity. If the 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS iii 

well-trained reader of The Atlantic 
Monthly who is looking for a problem 
were now to go to this town, she wotild 
go too late; for time is working its 
natural results in this American com- 
munity and twenty years hence it wiU 
be (except for the presence of two 
races) very like hundreds of towns in the 
Middle West. It is true the people 
talk slowly and cut off their words; 
they read the worst newspapers in the 
world because they are ** Democratic"; 
but, if they had better cooks, you would 
be content to live with them the rest 
of your life, for they give you good 
fellowship and they have the inestimable 
boon of leisure. 

These good qualities of fellowship 
and leisure mark them off from the 
people of corresponding fortune and 
social gradation in most other parts of 
the country. They are not only demon- 



REBUILDING OF 



strative; they really care for one an- 
other in most affectionate ways. Help- 
fulness is not an act of conscience; it 
is an impulse. Hospitality is not a 
mere habit; it is a necessity of their 
natures. It was in a town like this 
that a plan was made to build a hotel; 
and, when the leading citizen was asked 
to subscribe to stock in the hotel-com- 
pany, he replied with a touch of in- 
dignation: "A hotel? What do you 
want with a hotel ? Whenever a gentle- 
man comes to town I entertain him; 
and, if a man comes here who isn't a 
gentleman, let hira go on." If you 
are a gentleman and go there, any man 
in the town will stop work for a day 
{or seem to stop it) to entertain you. 
His household and his business will 
seem to move wholly with reference 
to your comfort and convenience; and 
every man and woman you meet will 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 113 

be delighted to see you. They will 
tell you so and show you that they 
mean it. You will come away with 
the feeling that, though you had before 
known hospitable individuals and fami- 
lies, you now know a whole town that 
had nothing to do but to entertain you. 
I can never forget or recall without a 
thrill of gratitude the distinction that 
was paid me several years ago when 
I went on an errand to a Southern 
city where I was almost a stranger. 
I had been at the hotel less than an 
hour when a gentleman whom I had 
not seen for twenty years called and 
took me to his home. His beautiful 
children did their share in entertaining 
me as if I had gone only to see them. 
I had a letter of introduction to a feeble 
old gentleman who lived nearly two 
miles away. I presented it and he 
seemed overwhelmed with regret that he 



114 



coijld not return my call nor add to my 
entertainment. During my visit the 
venerable coloured servant of this fine 
old man rode to the house of my host 
every morning at eight o'clock and 
delivered this speech: " De Col'nel 
sent me to ax consamin' Mr. Page's 
helf. He hopes he slep' well an' feels 
refreshed dis mawnin', and he 'spesses 
de hope dat you is all well." God rest 
his soul ! he opposed most ideas that I 
think sound, but he loved all men and 
women that are lovely and strong ; and 
he was a radiant gentleman. 

If you are determined to find a prob- 
lem, you may reflect on this — how in 
the march of industrialism these quali- 
ties of fellowship and leisure may be 
retained in the mass of the people; 
and how they might be transplanted 
to corresponding towns in other parts 
of the Union ? It is not a trick, not a 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 115 

mere fashion or a tradition : it is a quality 
of the blood — a, touch of nature that 
would redeem the unlovely wastes of 
much more prosperous and better- 
informed life. 

A few months ago I rode for more 
than a hundred miles along this first 
railway that ran by the village that I 
have described, in the company of a 
man who has gradually amassed a 
fortune by the good management of a 
cotton-mill. As we passed a dozen 
such towns he said that he had always 
believed in the success of " our people. " 
"They are as capable as any people 
under the sun and are better neigh- 
bours than most," said he. "But I 
had no idea that I should ever live 
to see such a degree of financial 
prosperity as they have already 
reached. " Then after a long talk about 



ii6 THE REBUILDING OF 

the growth of these communities he 
remarked — "Schools, schools, schools 
of the right sort — that is what we 
need," 

But in the country about these towns 
men and women are essentially like 
the men and women who lived there 
fifty years ago, or eighty years, or even 
a hundred. The farmers have more 
money than their predecessors had, 
but the general structure of their life 
is the same — a dull succession of the 
seasons where agriculture is practised 
in old-fashioned ways, where weary 
housewives show resignation rather than 
contentment and where ignorance has 
become satisfied with itself. The coun- 
try is somewhat more densely popu- 
lated than it was twenty years ago 
but the growth of population suggests 
only a denser stagnation. 

These men and women do not feel 




OLD COMMONWEALTHS 117 

poor. They have a civilization of their 
own, of which they are very proud. 
They have for a hundred years been 
told to be proud of it. The politicians 
have told them that they are the best 
people on earth, that the State they 
live in is the most important in the 
Union, that the ideas they stand for are 
the bulwarks of our liberties. Do they 
not own land? Are they not inde- 
pendent ? What more could men ask ? 
One in five is illiterate. But what 
nmtter? Some of the illiterate men 
are more successful than some others 
that can read. What does it profit a 
man, then, to read? There is a self- 
satisfied personal dignity which these 
men show that prevents near approach. 
If you propose to change any law or 
custom, or are suspected of such a 
wish, or if you come with a new idea, 
the burden of proving its value is on you. 



ii8 THE REBUILDING OF 

What they are they regard as the nor- 
mal state of human society. There 
was talk in one neighbourhood, I recall, 
about the possibility that the son of 
one of the more prosperous of these 
men might go away to study medicine. 
"I don't see the use," said the father. 
"We've got two doctors nigh enough 
and there ain't no room for a third." 
The preacher, too, has hardened their 
self-contentment, especially the self- 
contentment of the women, by fbdng 
their attention on the life to come, 
almost to the exclusion of ambition to 
lift up the life that is. 

A country schoolmaster in this 
region told me last year (truly enough) 
that the ability to read was not a good 
test even of a man's intelligence, to 
say nothing of his character. "Why, 
do you know," asked he, "how many 
of the Confederate soldiers were illiter- 



J 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 119 

ate? And they were the best soldiers 
that ever went to war/' 

" Suppose they had all been trained — 
trained to some useful occupation, 
some as geologists, some as miners, 
some as machinists, some as ship- 
wrights, some as gun-makers; the 
iron in Alabama, the wood and coal 
near by — ^would these not have been 
utilized in war?" 

** Utilized? We'd Ve whipped the 
Yankees — shore ! " 

"What would you think of schools 
where men should now be trained to 
occupations — schools here in this neigh- 
botu'hood, to make ploughs, waggons, 
f umittu'e — everything ? ' ' 

"That'd be a mighty good thing; 
but that ain't education. " 

There is, of course, a considerable 
variety of social conditions here as 
everjrwhere else in the world. Near 



I20 THE REBUILDING OP 

one home where both children and 
grandchildren are illegitimate is the 
residence of a man who holds his land 
by direct descent in his family from 
a colonial grant, and whose sons are 
successful lawyers and preachers in 
fotu" States. A good many youth go 
to the towns and find wider opporttmi- 
ties. From this same neighbourhood a 
yotmg man went to New York and is a 
rich merchant there; another went to 
college by his own exertions and is an 
electrical engineer in a great manu- 
facturing city; another is a partner in 
a factory in New England; another is 
a judge in Oregon. The most ambitious 
of course, go away; and the general 
level of life seems to remain as low as 
it was generations ago. The number 
of emigrants from the old Southern 
States tells the story of the stagnation 
of life in these rural regions. 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 121 

Three influences have held the social 
structure stationary — ^first, slavery, 
which pickled all Southern life and left 
it just as it found it ; then the politician 
and the preacher. One has proclaimed 
the present as the ideal condition; 
and, if any doubt this declaration, the 
other has bidden him be content and 
make sure of the world to come. Thus 
gagged and bound this rural society 
has remained stationary longer than 
English-speaking people have remained 
stationary anywhere else in the world. 
It is a state of life that keeps perma- 
nently the qualities of the frontier 
civilization long after the frontier has 
receded and been forgotten. The feel- 
ing that you bring away with you after 
a visit to such a community is a feeling 
that something has intervened to hold 
these people back from their natural 
development. They have capacity that 



1 



122 THE REBUILDING OP 

far outruns their achievement. They 
are citizens of an earlier time and of a 
narrower world who have not come to 
their own. And this is the cue to their 
character. 

The familiar classification of the 
Southern people as "gentlemen" and 
**poor whites" is misleading. The 
number of the large landed proprietors 
and of large slave-holders has been 
greatly exaggerated by tradition. 
Smaller, too, than is thought is the 
class that may properly be called 
" white trash " or ** buckra. " The great 
mass of these people came of sttirdy 
English and Scotch-Irish stock and 
they are very like the country popula- 
tion that settled the other States 
eighty years or more ago. They are 
not poorer nor "trashier" than the 
rural population of New Jersey or 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 123 

Pennsylvania or New York or New 
England were several generations ago, 
nor than they are now in some remote 
regions of these States. 

If the rural parts of New York or 
New Jersey or of Pennsylvania were 
to-day depopulated and all the ma- 
chinery of the present civilization were 
removed, and if to-morrow the popu- 
lation of eighty years ago were to re- 
appear just as it was, this would be a 
community very like these Southern 
communities. What an interesting field 
for sociological experiment such a re- 
appearance of a part of the past would 
present! Peddlers, missionaries, and 
reorganizers of social life would over- 
whelm their " contemporary ancestors. " 
It would be a pleasure to help them 
forward in a decade as far as their 
descendants travelled in eighty years, 
but it would not be an easy task. 



124 THE REBUILDING OP 

After many impatient efforts we should 
learn the wisdom of trying to find out 
their point of view and of contenting 
ourselves with seeing them advance in 
their own way, even if they came slowly 
and seemed stupid. Teaching one's 
ancestors is at best a difficult under- 
taking; for it is not the same task as 
teaching one's descendants. What a 
lot of disappointing effort this genera- 
tion might have saved if it had known 
this simple truth somewhat sooner ! 

I have purposely not written of the 
Negro as a separate part of the popula- 
tion, for in the building up of the 
commonwealth he will yield to the 
same kind of training. The Negro, 
at once the beneficiary and the victim 
of slavery, yet holds the white man, 
who was its victim and not its benefi- 
ciary, in economic bondage; and he is 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 125 

himself also in economic bondage and 
in bondage likewise to the white man's 
race-feeling. Training that brings eco- 
nomic independence sets the strongest 
and most natural forces of life at 
play. 1 long doubted whether a de- 
mocracy could absorb two different 
races thus living together and yet apart. 
But the practical results of right train- 
ing, both on the white man and on the 
Negro, have left no room for doubt, I 
think, in the mind of any far-seeing 
man who has made a personal study of 
these results. The doubtful thing is 
whether within any calculable time they 
will all receive right training. 

Without right training, you have 
such a problem as men nowhere else 
in our country have. It will yield 
little to reason. Argument will not 
solve it. Time alone will bring slow 
change. The preacher cannot help; 



136 



EBUILDING OF 



for the races have fallen apart in their 
religious life. The politicians have only 
made the race-relations worse. The 
white man has held the Negro back, 
the Negro has held the white man back; 
and dead men have ruled them both. 
Training to economic independence is 
the only true emancipation. 

Distinctive Southern life is to be 
found not only in the coimtry but 
in certain old towns also. A college- 
town will serve as an example. I 
know such a community where it seems 
proper to rest till one die, so quiet is its 
mild, contented life, so dignified the 
houses and the trees, and so peaceful 
the half-neglected gardens. You are 
aware only of an invitation to repose. 
When a route for a railroad half a 
century or more ago was run through 
a college-town very like this there was 



:i c wcta H 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 127 

great excitement. A railroad ? Never ! 
It would jar the dignity of the com- 
munity and corrupt the morals of 
youth. It was deflected, therefore; 
and, after thirty years of jolting in 
hacks over bad roads, the people had 
to build a branch railroad. But even 
then they would not permit a locomo- 
tive nearer than a mile. The railroad, 
therefore, ended in an old field and the 
same hacks yet have their share of 
work to do. But the old field is now 
the site of a cotton mill. 

I recently visited a college-town 
contemporary with this. The century- 
old buildings, the elms and the oaks 
that give acres of shade — ^trees some 
of which were planted by great men 
with proper ceremonies — ^in such an 
atmosphere generation after generation 
of youth has absorbed a little learning 
and much patriotism. The young men 



128 THE REBUILDING OP 

you meet axe grave in manner, earnest 
fellows who have already dedicated 
themselves to the State; for the State 
is greater than the Nation. 

It was in this academic circle more 
than a decade ago that I asked a 
member of the faculty why he attended 
a particular church, for I knew that 
he had for many years been an "ad- 
herent" of another sect and a believer 
in none. "I throw beef to the lion," 
said he. "The sectarian representa- 
tion in this faculty must be evenly 
balanced, and by this adjustment I 
belong to the chtirch that I attend." 
He unlocked a door in his library and 
took out a handful of books, Matthew 
Arnold's "Literature and Dogma," a 
volimie of Renan and two or three 
others. "These I keep under lock and 
key." 

It was vx this college town that I 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 129 

went to rest last winter. My memory 
will suffer palsy before I forget the 
tmchanging charm of that academic 
circle of eighteenth-centtiry life; for it 
is as it was before anything was that 
now is in our cotmtry. The suc- 
cession of generations is an incident; 
the coming of men from other States 
and other lands — ^it is they that soon 
change, not this circle into which they 
come. Tradition is king here and 
there is "no other. You would wear 
his livery yourself within an hour after 
you entered his kingdom; and you 
feel at home, as you would feel at home 
if you could visit your ancestors from 
whom you were reprehensible for stray- 
ing away into your own generation. 

When the play of general conversa- 
tion had ended one evening the talk 
settled down to a specific topic, and 
this was the topic — ^the lack of freedom 



I30 THE REBUILDING OF 

of speech in the commtinity. Of course, 
there was in that company absolute 
freedom. We were talking about 
"radical*' opinions, especially on theo- 
logical subjects and about the race- 
relation. "I should not dare," said 
one Professor, "to say in public — ^in 
my lecture-room or in print — a single 
thing that I have said here. " 

"Why?" 

" I should be dismissed. " 

" Do the men who hold the power of 
dismissal all count your opinions a 
crime?" 

"Why, not one of them. They all 
agree with me. There is no difference 
of private opinion. I can discuss any- 
thing with them in private. But they 
could not withstand the public in- 
dignation that would be expressed 
through the press." 

"This is the more remarkable," 



it 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 131 

another added with a laugh, ** because 
the editor of the most important news- 
paper in this quarter of the world 
holds more 'radical' opinions than any 
other man I know. But he has to serve 
the public." 

Who is the pubUc?" 
The Democratic platform, the 
Daughters of the Confederacy, old 
General So-and-so, and the Presby- 
terian creed," said one. 

"And the farmers who vote whether 
they can read or not, " added another. 

As for the editor of the powerful 
newspaper, I knew that a year before 
he had sought an engagement in New 
York in order "to get out of the realm 
that is ruled by the dead. " 

It is in such a circle of the old aca- 
demic society and in rural regions that , 
you come upon the real Southern ' 
problem — ^that unyielding stability of 



132 THE REBUILDING OF 

opinion which gives a feeling of de- 
spair, the very antithesis of social 
growth and of social mobility. " Every- 
thing lies here where it fell," said a 
village philosopher in speaking of this 
temper. "There are the same rocks in 
the road that were there before the war. " 

To illustrate — one morning I went 
to a school for the Negroes and I heard 
a very black boy translate and construe 
a passage of Xenophon. His teacher 
also was a full-blooded Negro. It 
happened that I went straight from 
the school to a club where I encotm- 
tered a group of gentlemen discussing 
the limitations of the African mind. 

"Teach 'em Greek!" said old Judge 
So-and-so. " Now a nigger could learn 
the Greek alphabet by rote, but he 
could never intelligently construe a 
passage from any Greek writer — ^im- 
possible!" I told him what I had 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 133 

just heard. **Read it? understood it? 
was black? a black man teaching him? 
I beg your pardon, but do you read 
Greek yourself?" 

" Sir, " said he at last, " I do not for a 
moment doubt your word. I know 
you think the nigger read Greek; but 
you were deceived. I shouldn't be- 
lieve it if I saw it with my own eyes 
and heard it with my own ears. " 

Such are the baflSing facts of a sparse 
population and of a self-satisfied life 
that lingers past its day. Do they give 
reason for despair ? Not at all : but they 
do give reason for patience. The prob- 
lem is the most important that has 
been presented in our national life. 
It is not the education of a few millions 
of neglected persons; it is not the 
modernizing of a few picturesque in- 
stitutions; least of all is it the task of 



134 THE REBUILDING OF 

imposing on these people the civiUza- 
tion that has been developed elsewhere 
(for this would be a fool's errand in- 
deed and in no way desirable if it were 
possible) ; but the larger question is 
this:— 

Since democracy means constant 
social growth and social mobility, is 
Southern life becoming democratic or 
is it remaining stable, or going back 
to an essentially aristocratic structure ? 
Are forces inside it asserting themselves 
that give promise of shaping this life 
in Hne with democratic growth ? Or 
are the native forces reactionary? Is 
democracy there at last to be a failure ? 
Is it equal to the task of assimilating 
tbe master race and the freed race? 

There are thoughtful men who frankly 
deny the possibility of such a complete 
conquest by the democratic idea. I 
quote one such, a man of learning if 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 135 

not of wisdom, who wrote this memo- 
randum for me under the mistletoe in 
an old South Carolina mansion last 
winter : 

**The dominant elements of society 
in the two sections of the cotmtry were 
different from the beginning. Slavery- 
did not make the difference, it only- 
emphasized it. The unconscious aims 
and ideals of the two peoples diverged. 
The abolition of slavery was a matter 
of force. So also was the suppression 
of secession. But these events did not 
change the essential character of the 
people. Superficially they are now one. 
But forty years are as nothing in the 
life of a people, nor fifty years nor a 
hundred. The South is to-day further 
from a willing acceptance of real demo- 
cratic ideals than it was twenty years 
ago. The growth of such organiza- 
tions as the Daughters of the Confeder- 



136 THE REBUILDING OF 

acy, the increasing celebration of the 
heroism of the Confederate soldier, 
the silent unwillingness of white men 
to tax themselves to educate the Negro, 
the instinctive denial to the Negro 
of any real standing in the most im- 
portant matters of life — these things 
seem to me to point to a different 
genius, a different tendency, a different 
ideal, even a different necessity. How 
the divergence will work itself out, I 
do not know; but a century hence the 
South will be, in the essence of its civi- 
lization, further from the North than it 
now is. No outward forms of govern- 
ment can make two different peoples 
I the same." 

I Another man of learning if not of 

r wisdom used to say to me in Cambridge, 

Massachusetts : ' ' The Southerners have 

always seemed foreigners to me. The 

Northern and the Southern people are 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 137 

different. I do not think they will 
ever work out the same ideals. " 

These opinions (which I have heard 
in recent years only in South Carolina 
and in Massachusetts and only in 
academic circles) strip the question of 
all side issues and of all temporary 
aspects. It is true that the same laws 
may not mean the same thing North 
and South (as the XlVth amendment 
to the Federal Constitution does not); 
and forty years have not essentially 
changed the Negro's place in the com- 
munity; and it is true that no exterior 
or temporary influence counts for much 
and the hereditary ** essence of a civi- 
lization" is everything. No man of 
thought has ever regarded laws enacted 
at Washington against the consent of 
the Southern people as a primary force 
in shaping their life, nor outside aid to 
education or to anything else as revolu- 



138 THE REBUILDING OF 

tionary if it ran counter to the native 
' ' genius ' ' ; preaching is of no avail ; 
alms-giving is an estranging force ; in a 
word, if Southern life have not in it 
the seed and the necessity of a true 
democratic development, then a demo- 
cratic order cannot be thrust upon it 
and it were useless to try. 

But, if I understand the great forces 
of our time, and if I know the history 
of the people of the Southern common- 
wealths (which to the obscuring of the 
whole large matter remains unwritten) 
my friends from whom I have quoted 
have made a radical misinterpretation 
of all the large facts and of all dominant 
present tendencies. There is no un- 
democratic trait in the Southern people 
that is not directly accoimted for by 
slavery and by the results of slavery. 
The most conspicuous institutional re- 
sults were the political machines that 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 139 

were built on race differences first by one 
political party and then by the other, 
and the ecclesiastical machines that 
are the direct result of popular ignor- 
ance and isolation. The cotintry peo- 
ple that I have described are men of 
good mettle, men to make free com- 
monwealths of. The very strongest 
impulse they have is patriotic and 
democratic. The contrary tendencies 
are clearly survivals of a deflection 
of their development. So strongly have 
I been impressed with the democratic 
quality of Southern character that I 
believe, if a democracy existed no- 
where in the world, Southern life 
would now evolve one, perhaps even of 
a radical tjrpe. 

These old commonwealths were ar- 
rested in their development by slavery 
and by war and by the double burden 
of a sparse population and of an ignor- 



I40 THE REBUILDING OF 

ant alien race. When the weight of 
these bttrdens is considered, the pro- 
gress made these thirty years in 
the development of the innate demo- 
cratic tendency is without parallel in our 
history. The present backwardness of 
Southern life in rural communities and 
in old academic or social circles is but 
a picturesque reminder of the distance 
we have travelled. Descriptions of 
these may entertain us, as the charm of 
the obsolete appeals to all cultivated 
minds, but they give no hint except by 
contrast of the real forces of the period 
in which we live. 

The process that has been going on in 
the upland South in partictilar is a 
process of conscious and natural State- 
building, constructive at every impor- 
tant step. Reactionary influences have 
been respectable, but they are spent 
impulses. There are two great con- 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 141 

structive forces. The first is Industry, 
which has akeady given the essential 
power over to a class of men that bring 
mobility to social life and opportunity 
to them that can take it. This in- 
dustrial development would finally work 
out the inherent democratic tendency 
of the people if no other force were 
brought into play. But no man who 
knows the gentleness and the dignity 
and the leisure of the old Southern life 
would like to see these qualities blunted 
by too rude a growth of sheer indus- 
trialism. 

The other great force that frankly 
recognizes the arrested development 
of the people and is taking hold of the 
problem of their natural growth is the 
new impulse in public education. This 
is native, and it is nothing different 
from Jefferson's creed and plan. So 
strong is it that its recent manifesta- 



142 THE REBUILDING OF 

tion may fairly be called a new chapter 
in ottr national history. In the presence 
of this revolutionary force, fear of re- 
action and doubt about the democratic 
"essence" of Southern civilization falls 
away. Beside this all other forces 
except the force of industrial life count 
for nothing. 

Formal education has been going on 
in the South these thirty years with 
increasing efficiency in the cities and 
the large towns and at the colleges. 
There are commtmities in which the 
whole attitude towards modem life has 
been changed by the influence of the 
schools. But it is not of town life, nor 
of higher education, that I now write. 
I write rather of that new impulse for 
the right training of the neglected 
masses that is a larger matter than 
school-room work or academic or pro- 
fessional training — of the subject as it 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 143 

affects the direction of the whole 
people's development. Prom this point 
of view a dozen or two colleges count 
for little, however excellent they may 
be; and life in the cities is, in a sense, 
of secondary importance, because the 
cities are few and the wide stretches of 
rural life are almost immeastuuble. 

The sittiation is discouraging enough, 
Heaven knows. In the ten cis-Mis- 
sissippian Southern States the propor- 
tion of illiterate white voters is as large 
as it was in 1850; and the public 
schools in these States now give "five 
cents* worth of education per child per 
day for only eighty-seven days a year. " 
This is to say that the total expenditure 
on the public schools is five cents a school- 
day per pupil and they are kept open 
an average of only eighty-seven days 
a year. But it is precisely because the 
situation is so bad that it is becoming 



144 THE REBUILDING OP 

so hopeful. Schools of this sort are 
little better than none. The people 
do not care for them. The stolidity 
of ignorance can not be overcome by 
any such perfunctory attack as this. 
The leaders of the best Southern 
opinion have come to recognize this 
truth, and they have begun work in 
a new way. They have discovered 
that the schools must do something 
more than teach the three R's, for a 
people without diversified occupations 
and without training do not care for 
the three R's, nor do the three R's 
profit them greatly. An idle and un- 
productive man is no less useless because 
he can read and write. 

It was this fundamental fact that 
General Armstrong saw when he worked 
out the system of training towards oc- 
cupations at Hampton Institute for 
the Negroes ; and it is this fundamental 



Iflil 




\ 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 145 

fact that the present leaders of popular 
education in the Southern States un- 
derstand. They are training hand and 
mind together. The experience in 
every rural community where a school 
of this kind has been established, is 
that the people who cared nothing for 
what they called "education" are so 
eager for this training that they will 
make any sacrifice to obtain it. Herein 
is the beginning of a complete change 
in neglected village and rural life. 
Here, too, is proof that the people are 
not " in the essence of their civilization " 
different from the people of the other 
parts of the cotmtry. The "way out" 
has been fotmd. The problem that the 
South now presents has at last become 
so plain that thoughtful men no longer 
differ about it. It is no longer ob- 
scured by race differences, nor by 
political differences. It is simply the 



146 THE REBUILDING OP 

training of the untrained masses. As 
slavery and war and an isolated life 
arrested their development and held 
them in a fixed social condition, so the 
proper training of them to helpful occu- 
pations will release them to usefulness 
in a democracy. 

The new movement is revolutionary 
for another reason. The old notion of 
education was that it meant the train- 
ing of a few. It is now understood 
that none can be well educated unless 
all .are trained. The failure to educate 
the masses has sometimes brought 
tragic results to the educated. There 
was a man, for instance, in an old 
Southern town who became a famous 
scholar in the law; and I suppose that 
he was a man of very unusual learning. 
He became a judge, and he was re- 
garded as the foremost jurist in his 
State. But his income hardly kept 



J 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 147 

his library replenished. He lived in 
respectable want and died without 
making provision for his family. His son 
also was trained to the law; and, since 
the family felt it a sort of sacred duty 
that he should remain where he was 
bom, his practice, too, was so small 
that he became discouraged and his 
life was a failure. The daughter 
sold the family mansion to pay the 
family debts. "But," as one of her 
neighbours said, " she is the first happy 
and independent member of that fam- 
ily." She teaches wood-work in the 
public school, and is training her 
nephews to scientific agriculture. 

The men and women of both races 
who are leading this great popular 
movement work with an inspiration 
that puts conventional teachers to 
shame. For example: A young agri- 
cultural chemist several years ago be- 



148 THE REBUILDING OF 

gan with enthusiasm a campaign of 
education among the farmers. He put 
much faith in bulletins and leaflets, 
which were sent broadcast. "I soon 
found out," said he, "that sending out 
literature did little good as long as 
many farmers could not read, and 
many more would not." He left his 
laboratory and became an educational 
statesman, and there are few men in 
America whose influence in building 
up the people is greater than his. Out 
of a comparatively small acquaintance, 
I know many similar experiences. A 
well-trained preacher, for example, 
who has had much to do with the ad- 
ministration of the churches of his sect 
in rural regions, lately gave up his 
work and became a superintendent of 
public schools. " Till the country peo- 
ple are educated," said he, "church 
work will not stick. " 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 149 

Anyone who knows the work that 
such men are doing could fill these pages 
■ with a bare catalogue of heroic deeds — 
deeds like these for example: The 
principal of a school for training white 
teachers proposed to the faculty that 
they give a part of their salaries, which 
were meagre to the edge of poverty, 
to erect a new building for the school. 
Not one demurred. The building was 
put up, but there is yet not room 
enough for the self-supporting students 
that apply for admission; and twelve 
teachers have only four recitation rooms. 
They are occupied almost every hour 
of the day. Yet no sooner had their 
winter vacation come than the principal 
hurried to Hampton Institute to study 
its method of teaching handicrafts; 
and half the f actdty went to New York 
to hear lectures at the Teachers' Col- 
lege. A vacation does not suggest rest 



ISO THE REBUILDING OF 

to them but opportunity to equip 
selves better. One of them went, as 
soon as his vacation began, to organize 
a model school in a village of two 
hundred people. They had collected 
$i,ooo. He secured $500 from some 
other source. The building was opened 
and every white parent in the neigh- 
botirhood went to the dedication of it; 
and the school, with its garden, its 
kitchen and its workshop as well as its 
books, provokes such enthusiasm as 
the community never would have felt 
for a mere book-school. 

Educational work in these States is, 
therefore, something more than the 
teaching of youth ; it is the building of 
a new social order. The far-reaching 
quality of the work that the energetic 
educators in the South are doing lifts 
them out of the ranks of mere school- 
masters and puts them on the level of 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 151 

constructive statesmen. They are the 
servants of democracy in a sense that 
no other public servants now are; for 
they are the re-builders of these old 
commonwealths. 

Any man who has the privilege to 
contribute even so small a thing as ap- 
plause to this great movement feels the 
thrill of this State-building work so 
strongly that he is not likely to take a 
keen interest in such tame exercise as 
historical speculation. Yet it would 
be interesting to speculate on the effects 
of Jefferson's plan for public education 
if it had been carried out. Would the 
public schools not have prevented the 
growth of slavery? True, public 
schools and slavery, as well as most 
other human institutions, are the re- 
sults of economic forces; but, if the 
masses of the Southern population had 



152 THE REBUILDING OP 

been educated, or trained to work, (and 
such training is education) a stronger 
economic impetus might have been 
given to diversified pursuits than cot- 
ton-culture gave to slavery, and the 
whole course of our history might have 
been changed. But, whatever may 
have been the results of Jefferson's 
educational policy if it had been worked 
out in Virginia, the development of 
Southern life in the next hundred 
years will be determined by the success 
with which it shall now be worked out. 
The nattire of the problem is clear. 
The work will be slow and the recovery 
from these last effects of slavery may 
require as long a time as it required to 
abolish slavery; but of the ultimate 
result no man who can distinguish 
dominant from incidental forces can 
have a doubt. 
! The Southern people were deflected 



OLD COMMONWEALTHS 153 

from their natural development. They ' 
are the purest American stock we have. 
They are naturally as capable as any 
part of our population. They are now 
slowly but surely working out their 
own destiny; and that destiny is a 
democratic order of society which will 
be an important contribution to the 
Republic that their ancestors took so 
large a part in establishing. Rich un- 
developed resources of American life lie 
in these great rural stretches that are 
yet almost unknown. The foremost 
patriotic duty of our time is to hasten 
their development. 

Thb End 



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